Accepted paper:

Suicide, post-mortem destiny beliefs, and death management among the Chamorros of Guam

Author:

David Atienza (University of Guam)

Paper short abstract:

I explore the role of post-mortem destiny beliefs and death management among the Chamorros of Guam that may facilitate an individual's decisions to end his or her life.

Paper long abstract:

Suicide in Micronesia is not a recent issue and has been recorded by several anthropological studies, chronicles and reports during the past few centuries. Suicide is a radical action that has to be considered through a multidisciplinary approach in order to guide an appropriate understanding. I explore the role of post-mortem destiny beliefs and death management among the Chamorros of Guam to facilitate an understanding of the decisions taken by individual's to terminate their own life. Traditionally Guam is considered to be a Catholic island, but the Christian Catholicism here possesses its own cultural characteristics due to a historical processes of syncretism, and the tools that were used to evangelize the people of the Marianas. One of the most important elements used by the Jesuits in the first evangelization of the island (1668-1778) was the devotion to the Holy Virgin, and the images associated to Her. Today, the rosary, the novenas, and the devotion to the Virgin Mary plays a fundamental role in death management since the popular tacit belief is that Mary has the power to save the souls from Hell, making Heaven the ultimate destiny for all Chamorro people, which is an unorthodox notion in Catholic terms.

panel LD14
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