Suicide has many causes. But we also make it intrinsically more likely by insisting that we have the right to end our lives, as so many do now under the rubric of “assisted dying.” Once we arrogate that power to ourselves, instead of leaving it in the hands of God, then ending our lives at anytime, in any place in life becomes intrinsically more likely. Who is left to say, “you aren’t old enough, miserable enough, sad enough, weak enough, or impaired enough to take your life?”
Arguably, those who take their lives are so lost to the love of God and others, so lost to hope, that no logic will prevent them from taking their lives. I understand that, and my heart goes out to those who are that desperate. But when we reflect on the death of those lost to suicide and ask ourselves, “What is wrong with our culture that suicide has become so much more common?”, look no further than the ways in which we have minimized the deaths of those who are the youngest and the oldest among us.
There may be other causes — there no doubt are — but long before despair and depression, we frame our understanding of life, its origins, its value, and its purpose. If we assert that we are the authors of our lives and that it is our right to dispose of them, then we need not be shocked that it has become desperately easy to exercise that right.
(And an important postscript: This reflection is on one point and one point only: the climate we have created culturally. In no way is it a reflection on what finally prompts people to commit suicide, nor is it meant to suggest that they have been willful or sinful.)