I was saddened to read Sept. 27 article “Military sees frustrating trend as suicides spike.” I am 26 years a priest, 12 years a Navy Reserve chaplain and deployed three times to the Middle East.

Throughout my service, I’ve buried 20-plus souls who committed suicide and counseled many who were struggling with thoughts of suicide. 

Talking to the family and friends of the departed and in the midst of counseling sessions, I’d ask them to talk to me about their spirituality.

What I found is that they all acknowledged as having little to no active faith life. 

Although they all acknowledged a belief in God, they also admitted to not actively and regularly practicing their faith traditions. In my experience, I see a direct connection between one’s ability to cope with life’s difficulties and their level of faith practice.

I am even more convinced that those who maintain a regular and active faith life are better equipped to deal with life’s hardships than those who do not.

Jesus taught us this lesson in his parable of the Two Foundations (Matthew 7:24-27). Those who hear the word of God and act on it are like the wise who build their lives on rock. Those who hear the word of God and fail to act on it are like the fools who build their lives on sand. Only those who act on the word weather the storms. 

To all who contemplate suicide. I say: Go back to church.

The Rev. Leo F. Arnone

Pastor of St. Aloysius, St. Francis Xavier and All Saints Catholic School, Cresson

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