‘Suicide’ : A Call To Faith



What went wrong? What went so terribly wrong in the body, mind, and spirit of Jacqueline? The psychiatrists determined that she was of no harm to herself or others, so she was released from the ward to the custody of her parents. Several weeks went by and Jacqueline showed no particularly troubling signs to Maria and Mack, Jacqueline’s stepdad. Mack was a large man of few words and loved the children that he had inherited, Skip and Jacqueline, as well as his own young son Scott, who was birthed by Maria. Kind to a fault, he would do just about anything for anyone. A civil servant, he worked for the Social Security Administration for most of his working years. The family spent all of their lives living in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

Jacqueline was under constant supervision, and the family was instructed to notify the doctor immediately if her state of mind or condition worsened. Scott Sibley—the handsome, teenage son of Maria and Mack—was at home during this time. Did he understand the nature of the situation with his sister?

The family station wagon had been running in the garage with the garage door closed as Maria and Mack pulled into the driveway. Although Jacqueline was obviously of age to drive, her meds prohibited her from going behind the wheel. Jackie, sweet and precious Jackie, why? As Mack quickly flung the garage door open, the first thing that hit him was the billowing fumes from the exhaust of the vehicle. Jackie lay in a fetal position under the exhaust pipe, lifeless. She had been inhaling lethal fumes from the exhaust pipe for an undetermined amount of time.

The house became a crime scene with the police, Emergency Medical Services, and every emergency vehicle in the area showing up to determine what took place. Jackie, sweet Jackie, was gone at the tender age of twenty-one. Her death was ruled a suicide and her body taken away to one of those cold places where bodies go before loved ones get to grieve over it. It is unimaginable, the emotions that Maria and Mack must have experienced. One of the suppositions in life is that parents are not supposed to bury their own children.

Where are you, Jacqueline? Doesn’t the Catholic Church say that suicide is a sin that bans people from heaven? How could an omnipotent and empathetic God send sweet Jackie to hell? These were the questions that were whirl-winding through Skip’s mind as he raced home from Gettysburg College. Skip, at this point in his young life, had never set foot in the college chapel, and the only time he found himself in church was at a family or friend’s wedding. The grief that overcame the Sibleys would manifest differently in each of the surviving family members. Goodbye, Jackie.