Why Nuns Commit Suicide?

published on June 15, 2008

Following is a news piece came in one Christian website 2 years back at time of the suicide of a Nun.


Where were this Human Right Commission  who now took sword  against  Kerala Women Commission  who tried to address  a social issue in the soceity?




Convent life drives Kerala nun to suicide

A 34-year-old Clarist Sister is the latest of 15 cases of suicide over
the past 12 years among religious sisters in Kerala, India,
highlighting underlying problems in convent life for women.

situations drive nuns to suicide,” says Montfort Br Varghese
Theckenath, President of the Conference of Religious India (CRI). “We
are honest to admit the problem and we have to sort it out,” he told
Bangkok-based news agency UCA News.

Kerala generates the
most male and female Religious in India. Br Theckenath says the state
has 33,226 nuns. According to the 2006 CRI directory, India has 102,810
nuns and 7,216 novices.

According to Joseph Pulikunnel, a Catholic lay leader who edits Osanna
(“Hosanna”) magazine, Kerala has recorded 15 cases of suicide among
nuns in the past 12 years. The latest was Clarist Sr Lisa, whose body
was found last month in the guestroom of her convent near Kottayam,
2,650 kilometres south of New Delhi.

The police found a suicide
note that cited disappointment in life as the reason the 34-year-old
nun took the extreme step. An autopsy showed no wounds on her body.
Police official PB Vijayan said Sr Lisa consumed poison, and
investigators reported finding traces of pesticide in her room.

deceased nun’s father, Joseph Thottathil, blamed the convent for his
daughter’s death. The distraught 60-year-old father said his daughter
was unhappy with her impending transfer to another convent and had
informed her superiors, “but she never got justice from her superiors.”

As the police continued to probe the case, some nuns and priests in Kerala discussed with UCA News possible reasons why nuns take their own life.

Fr Paul Thelakat, editor of Satyadeepam
(“Lamp of Truth”), a Church weekly published out of Kochi, the state’s
commercial hub, blames disorientation and lack of communication.

Elsy, superior of a Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King convent,
agrees with him. The 56-year-old religious says disappointment and
despair lead some nuns to end their life. Nuns get “very limited
opportunity” to ventilate their grievances. “It’s a serious matter,”
added the superior, who is based in the state capital of

Sr Elsy and Fr Thelakat cite a need to review nuns’ formation programs.

22.5 percent of men who enter seminaries become priests, Sr Elsy
pointed out, while the rest leave during formation, which usually lasts
from nine to 15 years. In contrast, a nun gets only four years of
training and “once you become a nun, it is difficult to get out.” She
explained that “society, the Church and family” discourage nuns from
quitting the convent even if they experience dissatisfaction and

Fr Thelakat adds that priests “get lots of
opportunities to meet people and exchange their views, but women
religious are closeted in the convents.”

Carmelite Sr Tina Jose,
a lawyer who has been a nun for 34 years, says nuns face more
challenges than their male counterparts. “There is discrimination
against women in general, and if I deny this, I will be telling a big
lie,” she said.

But referring to Sr Lisa’s suicide as “only a
personal tragedy,” the 53-year-old nun accused the media of trying to
sensationalise the case.

Sr Jose said that Kerala reports the
highest number of suicide cases in India. “Nuns are not from Venus.
They represent a cross-section of this society,” she continued. In her
view, nuns’ formation equips them to face pressure, but some who are
emotionally weak commit suicide. “It does not reflect the true picture
of women religious in Kerala,” she insisted.

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