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Another nun commits suicide in Kerala

Updated: February 12, 2009 12:34 PM GMT
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A Catholic nun committed suicide in Kerala on Feb. 11, the second such case reported from the southern Indian state in six months. Convent authorities and a police official have described Sister Josephine´s death as suicide. The Daughters of Mary nun lived in the congregation´s provincial house in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Trivandrum). The convent comes under Trivandrum Syro-Malankara archdiocese. ia_thiruvananthapuram.gifA press release from the Oriental-rite Catholic archdiocese said the 38-year-old nun had been undergoing treatment for depression. When other nuns did not see Sister Josephine at lunch, the statement said, they searched for her and found the door to her room bolted from the inside. The nuns broke down the door and found her hanging from the ceiling fan. They then informed the police. Sister Josephine shared the room with three other nuns. Sanal Kumar, a police official who conducted the inquiry, said they recovered medical prescriptions and some pills from the deceased nun´s room. The police have registered a case of suicide, he added. News of the incident led to tension in the area. A crowd shouted slogans against the nuns, alleging that harassment had led Sister Josephine to kill herself. Police had to intervene to defuse the situation. Later, a magistrate and senior officials visited the convent and ordered an autopsy. Joy Thomas, a Catholic, remarked: "There is something wrong with the convent life or their formation." The layman wants the Church to do something to stop nuns´ taking their own life. "It is the second suicide in six months," he pointed out. On Aug. 11 last year, another nun was found hanging in her room at St. Mary´s Convent in Kollam, about 70 kilometers north of Thiruvananthapuram. In her suicide note, Holy Cross Sister Anoopa Mary said she could no longer withstand a senior nun´s harassment. Church people fear the latest suicide will add to problems the Church faces in Kerala, a major Christian center in India. The death "will become another tool to attack the Church," predicted Brother Mani Mekkunnel, national secretary of the Conference of Religious India (CRI), the association of the country´s Religious major superiors. The Montfort brother said the CRI had studied the problem some 20 years ago when Kerala reported a spate of nuns committing suicide. The study revealed that personal problems rather than frustration with Religious life had led those nuns to end their life. He noted that Kerala accounts for the largest number of suicide cases in India and the trend has not spared Religious. END

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