Some people say that according to God’s justice, this boy is damned because he took his life. I say it was overcome by the devil. Is this child any more to blame for the despair that overtook him than an innocent man who is murdered by a robber in the woods? God must be mercy. God is mercy. –Martin Luther, Luther (2003)
Growing up in the Catholic Church, I had always heard that suicide was, basically, a ticket to Hell. It didn’t matter if you were a Christian or not, you were making your last act on this Earth a sin and that meant God couldn’t forgive you.
Though, I have been shown that this is not a part of the Catholic Church’s official stance, it is what I was taught in Catholic school and what most Catholics (and many Non-Catholic Christians) I know personally have been taught.
However, suicide is often looked upon as something done maliciously. Suicidal thoughts are something much deeper than sin. They are a desperate, final attempt to escape pain.
I know this, because there was a time in my life when I was suicidal. I was barely a teenager, but I was victim to a genetic predisposition to depression, and it had taken its toll on me. After several months of my life falling apart, losing all my friends, feeling hopeless and alone, I had decided to end it all.
As you can guess, I was unsuccessful.
Thank the Lord.
Now that I’m a grown man, and a Christian, I’ve spent several years wondering just what the rules are.
If you search online, most people believe the Bible says suicide sends you to Hell. But, actually, the Bible never makes a clear rule on the subject, despite the fact that suicide is mentioned in the Bible quite a lot.
Several people in the Bible contemplate and/or commit suicide.
The most famous is Judas, who, after selling out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, tried to give the money back and then commit suicide out of shame.
However, there is also the story of Samson, a man blessed by God, who committed suicide so that he would also kill evil men attacking him. This story alone raises a lot of complicated questions on the topic.
The Bible doesn’t specifically say that suicide is a sin, but of a course, it is, based on a commandment we’re all familiar with:
You shall not murder. –Exodus 20:13 NIV84
This is one of the “big 10.” And you may be thinking, “Isn’t this talking about killing other people?” Well, yes and no. It may seem to pertain only to killing others, when you pair it with other Scriptures, it makes it clear that God doesn’t want any life to be taken by man.
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. –Genesis 9:6 NIV84
Now, again, this verse refers to taking someone else’s life, but the second part of the verse makes it clear: Man is made is God’s image and therefore, no one should kill a man. This would have to include killing yourself.
Both murder and suicide are an intentional, premeditated taking of a human life, and therefore, they must be considered the same thing.
But all of this doesn’t quite answer the question: Does suicide automatically send someone to Hell?
Let me make it simple: No.
How can I be so sure? Because God has made it clear what the key to Heaven is:
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. –Romans 10:9 NIV84
This is the only rule, the only requirement, the only key to salvation, and there are no exceptions to this rule for us. Suicide is most definitely a sin, but it is not an unforgivable sin that can cancel out your salvation.
No matter how one dies, suicide or otherwise, the destination of the soul is determined the same way.
But let me stop right here.
Why do people commit suicide?
Because everything goes wrong.
Because they have no hope.
Because they don’t feel loved.
Because they’re afraid of the future.
Because they’re afraid of consequences.
Because life doesn’t feel like it’s worth living anymore.
I’ve been in a lot of these situations. My life has fallen to pieces. My hope has been drained. My future has looked bleak. My sins have brought grave consequences over the years.
Each time, I’ve entertained the idea of just letting it end.
But I could never do it. There are many reasons why. My wife, my parents, my friends, my responsibilities, my future. And the main reason is that I know who my God is. I know that He has plans for me. And I know that, no matter how bleak it seems, even if my own failures put me here, He will not give up on me.
I accepted Christ into my heart and surrendered my life to God. My life is not my own, and it is not my right to end it all. I do not have the authority to kill myself.
But, even still, there are Christians who find themselves in a deep despair that they never climb out of.
It’s heart-breaking. It’s tragic. And it should be the mission of every Christian to make sure that anyone, Christian or not, who looks like they are struggling, is looked after, cared for, and loved.
Just because suicide is not an unforgivable sin, that should not be a license to go through with it. You are still made in the image of God, and you should treat yourself that way.
Remember, my brother or sister, if you find yourself in darkness, cling to the Light. You are stronger than you think, because your power, your strength, doesn’t come from within — it comes from above. Don’t quit, don’t give up before the miracle happens!
If you ever find yourself struggling with thoughts of suicide, please talk to someone. A counselor, a pastor, a parent, or a friend. Or call 1-800-273-8255, a National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
Remember, suicide is NOT a last resort. It’s not even on the list. It is NEVER an option.
God loves you. And He will never abandon you.