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Indonesian seminarian 'commits suicide' during Mass

Well-liked student, 24, found hanging from a tree at the San Juan Convent complex in Kupang

Indonesian seminarian 'commits suicide' during Mass

The reason behind Redemptus Karlos Tangi Kebo's apparent suicide remains unclear. (Photo supplied) 

A young seminarian has been found dead in an apparent suicide at a convent in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province, police said.

Redemptus Karlos Tangi Kebo, 24, from the Order of Discalced Carmelites was found on March 7 hanging from a tree at the San Juan Convent complex in Kupang, the provincial capital, while other seminarians were in a chapel nearby celebrating Mass.

Kebo, who came from Ngada district on the Catholic-majority island of Flores, had been studying philosophy at Widya Mandira Catholic University in Kupang.

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In a statement received by UCA News, Central Kupang police chief Elpidus Kono Feka said all the evidence “so far pointed to Kebo having committed suicide.” He did not say whether a suicide note had been discovered. 

Father Bertolomeus Bolong, a spiritual adviser of the seminarian, said news of Kebo’s death had come as a complete shock and he had no idea why he would want to kill himself.

He said Kebo and other students had spent the evening before the tragedy preparing a webinar with the theme "Faith Crisis Amidst Pandemic" which was to be held after Sunday Mass on March 7.

“Sunday Mass in the convent’s chapel had only just started when one of the seminarians opened a chapel window and saw Karlos hanging from a tree,” he told news portal Nttpembaruan.com.

He said Kebo was a cheerful and well-liked student who excelled in his studies.

"I once said to him he was one of the order's superior seeds for the future,” said the priest.

Kebo was buried on March 8 at the convent complex.

Jefryn Haryanto, a psychologist, said the case highlighted the need for counseling in educational institutions, including seminaries.

"People generally commit suicide because they want to run away from certain problems,” said Haryanto, who for the past three years has provided psychological advice to Maria Monfort Missionaries in Ruteng, Flores.

He said he has found some people enter a seminary as a form of escape from social or personal problems.

Seminaries need to recognize this and be able provide the right advice or environment that can help these people overcome whatever problem they are facing, he said.

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