BY RACHAEL WHITMAN
“The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering. … I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”
These are the words written by California Gov. Jerry Brown in support of assisted suicide. On Oct. 5, Brown signed a law saying that physicians in California can now legally assist a patient in committing suicide.
The law may only impact the citizens of California, but the fact that suicide is becoming legal, and the impact suicide has on society affects people many states away, including the community living at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Savannah Ruhe, a junior theology and catechetics major and a resident assistant, said, “I definitely think that suicide is prevalent everywhere, you know, not just … where they passed the bill, but you know even on this campus, and I don’t think that it’s something to be taken lightly, but I also don’t think that it’s something you should be shocked about … depression and mental illness isn’t uncommon.”
Ruhe said people who think about suicide are not always fully in control, so it is important to remind them that God loved them so much that he created them, and when it is time, God will take them home.
Christopher Quiroz, a junior communications radio/TV major, said, “I think it’s an affront to the dignity of the human person, because whether they want to or not I don’t think anyone should be forced to the point mentally or physically that they feel like their life, in a way, is not worth anything or like useless.”
Quiroz said Catholics understand the value in suffering and relate it to Christ on the cross, and they offer their suffering up for others, but that society has trouble understanding this as it is so against suffering in any form.
He also said that suicide, in a way, is pushed by a culture that often jokes about how life is meaningless, and a culture that thinks something is OK simply if someone wants it.
Culture affecting the way suicide is viewed was an idea also shared by Christopher Carlo, a junior political science major.
Carlo said, “Our culture today is directed towards pleasure and feeling good and when a person doesn’t feel good and is not taking pleasure in life, many people think that that person has a right to end his life. But if there is a deeper meaning to life than just the seeking of pleasure – found in religion – then suicide is immoral based on that meaning.”
Bord said the culture has become selfish and materialistic, making it easy to abandon God and become depressed, and that this has impacted the way the culture views suicide.
Despite this culture, the community of Franciscan promotes the opposite. The university provides students with the opportunity to grow in their faith through daily Mass, confession and the opportunity to talk with pastoral assistants in each dorm.
Ruhe said being a resident assistant is basically a ministry in which they love and help the students on campus. She said if a student comes to her and is talking about a struggle with something or about depression that it is not necessarily something that needs to be reported, but if students are harming themselves or talking about suicide then she has to report it.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.” (2281)
The catechism also states, “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.” (2282, 2283)
Located in the lower level of the Finnegan Fieldhouse is the Wellness Center where counseling services are offered for those struggling with these types of issues. Representatives from the Wellness Center were not able to comment by the deadline for this article.
Quiroz said, “I think that if people here on campus … are having trouble with suicide they should definitely know that they’re not alone, and that there is meaning in life, and that the university, and the people in this university, of this community, care and … they should call the Wellness Center.”