A question about suicide
#1
I know that church teaching considers suicide a mortal sin and people who commit this act go to hell, but I was wondering if there were any exceptions or circumstances which would make the person less culpable for their actions. If someone is in misery and sees no way out how can God hold this action against them?

The reason I ask this is personal,  a good friend of mine recently took his life after struggling with depression and bi polar disorder. He was baptized Catholic but was definitely not practicing his faith at the time of his death. I refuse to believe he's burning in hell for all eternity and continue to pray for him. Of course there is always a "what if"  in the back of my mind
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#2
The Catechism says this

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law. (1735)
Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
2283    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.

and I'm sorry to hear about your loss I will keep you and your friend in my prayers


Remember our blessed Lord wants all men to be saved. :)

Pax
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#3
With the modern developments in psychiatry the Church recognizes that there are circumstances which mitigate the moral culpability of those who commit suicide. We should pray for the repose of their souls.
:pray: :pray: :pray: :pray: :pray: 
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#4
Remember the conditions for Mortal Sin.  In certain cases a person isn't entirely culpable for themselves, particularly if a medical reason causes it but I've also heard theological debate on the possibility of severe depression as a possible exculpatory factor.  Don't have any citations handy, though I'd say CatholicSteve21 probably covered the gist of it.

It's not definite that ANYONE is in Hell (though don't exactly look good in any interpretation for Judas).  I would definitely offer a Rosary and ask the intercession of the Blessed Mother, if not also a Mass intention for the soul of this person.  Discuss with a (TLM) priest the possibility of a Requiem Mass.
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#5
Pray the Office of the Dead for them and don't despair. Like it's been said, there's no way of knowing who is in hell or isn't apart from Judas and even with him we can't presume to be 100% sure. God is entirely sovereign and only He knows what is in the heart of man..
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#6
Sadly, our society today deems those with poetic sensitivy and extraordinary personalities as 'mentally ill.' I have much personal experience with this and I can tell you that this diagonsis causes the illness, not the other way around. Many people die because this evil determinism of modern science, by convincing others that they are eternally incurable due to 'imbalaced brain chemistry' and 'genetic disorders' of the 'personality' and 'brain'. Many people, who sadly never were correctly instructed about the human soul and sin, suffer and take their own lives and those of others, because they live and die in ignorance of the truth.  Your friend most likely died a great sinner, but an innocent victim of modern medical science and I pray for them, and for you.
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#7
:pray: :pray: :pray:
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#8
Not all suicides are driven by mental illness or despair. Suicide was, and to some degree still is considered, an act to maintain or restore honor in certain shame cultures, like that of Japan.

In the Western context, Cato chose suicide over submission to tyranny after he was defeated, and Cato has long been considered a model of moral rectitude. Dante places him at the very base of Mount Purgatory as a sort of guardian, and in doing so, Dante imagines Cato's salvation, among those righteous freed from Limbo by Christ in the Harrowing of Hell.

I'm not sure if it's particularly Catholic, but my imagination more or less follows Dante on this question. I can  imagine exceptional circumstances in which persons with a wholly clear and well-ordered conception of the good may take their own lives, without compromising their moral character. Dante, after all, said that Cato's face was illuminated by four stars, signifying his possession, in full, of the classical moral virtues.

Did Regulus commit suicide?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Atilius_Regulus
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#9
One might consider Cato's example pride and it's a stretch to see any Christian virtue in it.
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#10
St. Augustine treats suicides not due to mental health issues. Basically he sees it as a sin (murder) in every circumstance, but in some he implies that people are excused, for instance, when the virgins killed themselves during the sack of Rome, in order not to be raped.
This could be, of course, one instance of the same sort of thing in Cato's case: pride, because, as St. Augustine says, in rape two are involved but only one sins. Cato's case, though, is less excusable than holy virgins.
So, yes, a person who commits suicide can have hope.

About Regulus, wouldn't it be equivalent to ask a warrior going to war in dire circumstances is committing suicide?
There was a more recent case, in Portugal's expeditions to the Indias there was a passage through the southern tip of Africa so difficult that people thought it was a sin to try to pass, because it was tantamount to suicide. If I'm not mistaken the priests argued it was not a sin (and eventually they could pass by).
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