‘When a Loved One Dies by Suicide’: New Film Series Is a Gift for So Many Who Suffer| National Catholic Register

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

‘When it comes to suicide,’ says Msgr. Charles Pope, ‘we must be very careful to remember that there is a person and a story, and this is very precious to God.’

During this season of gift-giving, in his letter, St. James tells us, “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights” (James 1:17).

With that understanding, the new film series by the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers (CMHM), When a Loved One Dies by Suicide, is certainly to be considered a gift from above for those suffering the loss of a loved one by suicide. The series, comprising eight videos, contains one testimony per video from those who have suffered the loss of loved ones by suicide, and was compiled by Deacon Ed Shoener, the founder of CMHM, and Bishop John Dolan of Phoenix, as a resource for individuals grieving in the aftermath of suicide, as well as for those who minister to their mental, emotional and spiritual needs. The film is based upon the award-winning book by Ave Maria Press, When a Loved One Dies by Suicide: Comfort, Hope, and Healing for Grieving Catholics, and is available for viewing on demand at Ave Maria PressSanctuary Mental Health Ministries, and CatholicMHM.org.

“This film is not graphic, but it includes stories of suicide,” reads the text preceding each testimony. Following, phone numbers and mental health resources are provided for those in need of immediate support. Sarah Ruggier, a Registered Clinical Counselor in Vancouver, British Columbia, is then presented, standing within the interior of a Catholic church as soft music tones play in the background. Ruggier’s manner is sensitive and unrushed as she speaks about issues related to suicide loss and grief. “Everyone grieves in their own way,” she tells us, “And no two healing journeys are the same. In this film you will meet someone who has lost a loved one by suicide. Although their story is unique, it may support and encourage you as you seek to understand your own loss and find a way toward healing.” She recommends viewing the film series in “a safe place,” allowing time to pause, to take breaks or to walk away if necessary. Reach out to a friend, she suggests, or a family member, or a pastor if the film is too difficult to process. 

In this way, it seemed to me the film would be especially useful to those uncomfortable with processing suicide loss within a group situation, and who, instead, need a more intimate setting.

‘When a Loved One Dies by Suicide’: New Film Series Is a Gift for So Many Who Suffer| National Catholic Register

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