‘Culture of presence’ promoted in ‘suicide confab’

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MAKATI City, Oct. 21, 2014—Participants of the recent National Dialogue on Suicide held at the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati City have expressed their commitment to promoting a “culture of presence” that will counter threats to the value of life.

According to a statement issued after the forum, the “culture of silence” which often surrounds each suicide case calls for a continual “culture of presence”.

Iligan Bishop Elenito R. Galido celebrates mass as part of the recent National Dialogue on Suicide held at the Santuario de San Antonio Parish. (Photo: Sr. Anthony Basa)

In line with this, they ask, “As Truth, Way, Life, what can the Church and society do?”

The group specifically identified “episodes incongruent with the task of the preservation of life” where continuous awareness, dialogue, and exchange of resources are needed to value an authentic “culture of life”.

The dialogue, themed “Preserving an Authentic Culture of Life”, was organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission of Culture (ECC) and weighed in on the current reality of suicide, the motives of those who have attempted it, as well as the pain it inflicts on and the questions it raises for the people suicide victims leave behind.

While they believe that resolving all suicide cases is an impossible task, they are glad there are readily available resources people can share with others like “a simple smile we give to each other and sincerely asking persons how they are”.

The participants state, “God, the author of life, has continually nourished the whole of creation and has entrusted and invited humankind to share in its nourishment and preservation. Testimonies in the fulfilment of such task abound.”

They regret episodes incongruent with the task of the preservation of life likewise exist along with the promotion of a life unaligned with its original intended nature.

In the statement, the participants also highlight the nature of the dialogue and the themes it has yet to consider, underscoring four key areas from which concrete plans and actions can be developed.

These areas are psychological (depression, isolation), biological (physical and psychological state), socio-cultural (family and socio-cultural norms), and spiritual (faith and personal and group healing).

The dialogue gathered delegates—parents, chaplains, guidance counsellors, deans, religious formators, delegate superiors, clinical instructors, media personnel, social workers, faculty, psychologists, youth coordinators, nurses, social action ministers, campus and prison ministers, Catholic charismatics, Christian groups, clergy, and religious—in order to hear, share, and explore testimonies of suicides. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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