Growing up my cousins were our neighbours on two sides. We played and shared and went frog hunting and tadpole catching in the ponds on our property. We ice skated with neighbour kids in winter and then one spring when I was 9 the police came and searched and searched some more for my older cousin who went missing.
They found his body 3 days later at the bottom of the highest cliff about a kilometer into our backyards, across the highway. They said that he had no stomach contents and that he had likely only been dead a few hours.
The official cause of death was suicide, the unofficial was blunt force trauma to his skull, presumably as he fell. How a 17 year old goes without food or water when a corner store and unlocked houses are within shouting distance, for several days never sat well with me. It didn’t sit well with the retired police chief who offered to look into it as a homicide and it didn’t sit well with my grandpa either.
My aunt and uncle didn’t want the help though, so the ruling was as is and the priest denied my cousin his last rites, because you can’t receive more than a blessing if you have taken your own life.
I tended his grave for years, going and wiping the fresh cut grass from the stone and making sure the solar light I bought was still lighting at night, the shepherds hook it hung on something I knew would help guide him to the Light and keep him there.
I don’t believe that suicide is a sin. I know a lot of people do, including the church. I have faith in a God who does not punish those who are mentally ill, and if you have ever been depressed or suicidal you know that there is no such thing as “rational” when in that state of mind. The act of suicide isn’t to cause pain, it’s a final and desperate attempt to end your own.
Whether suicide or homicide I have prayed that as my cousin flew to the ground below that he felt no fear, only peace and maybe even a moment of joy knowing that this act was the pathway to freedom from what we call life.