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Will Suicide send someone to hell?

Today's Question: I'm not a Catholic; but, my mother was raised Catholic so many of her beliefs were handed down to us. I am a Christian with strong beliefs in Jesus and I believe my friend Jesus loves us even when we make mistakes and suicide is wrong but I think it is a mistake even one a Christian can do. My mother says that one who commits suicide goes to Hell.

From my studies, the only thing that would send us to Hell would be to deny Jesus as our Savior. But that even in believing Jesus as our Savior does not mean we will be perfect even in death or even strong in life no matter how hard we want to we strong in life.

I have wondered about this because I know of a Christian who loved Jesus with all her heart and suffered from co-dependency in a dysfunctional home. She suffered for so long and asked Jesus so carry her into heaven to live with Him as she sliced her wrists 3 1/2 inches on one wrist, 3 inches on the other wrist and 4 inches in the upper thigh. She wrote that her Hell was on earth and that she couldn't stand one more day of it. She wrote that she prayed to God, as she performed her murder on herself, that He would forgive her for this sin as He had forgiven her of the others she had done in the past. She stated that the Bible says that He will not allow one to stand more than one can bear and that He is our strength. She stated that she wasn't strong--knowing the Lord is strong but not her and asked to be carried to heaven to live with Him from that moment on.

I've asked a couple of other pastors this question but they will not answer at all. I know even pastors are human and that we can't look into the future and know the answers of heaven and hell for each individual. Do you have any opinions on the matter?

Sincerely,

Mary Bell

Bible Answer: In response to suicide: The Bible describes two believers who committed suicide: King Saul and Judas. For sure Judas went to hell. Peter said about him in Acts 1:16-18:

and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus--he was one of our number and shared in this ministry." (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.

This Scripture implies that Judas was not saved.

The other story is about King Saul. He was fatally wounded in battle, so to avoid torture he killed himself. From David's words about Saul, it appears that Saul went to heaven. He says, 2 Sam 1:23 "Saul and Jonathan--in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted..." We know that Jonathan was godly, so if Saul and Jonathan were not parted in death, this would mean Saul is with Jonathan in heaven. I should also note that this passage may simply mean that they died together in battle, not necessarily that they are still with each other in death. At any rate, Saul killed himself only because he was trying to avoid torture, and he was going to die soon anyway.

Mary, the way I explain suicide is this: I tell believers to fear God enough not to take the risk. You could lose your soul by committing suicide, so it's better to simply play it safe and trust God to make you happier. I lean to the idea that most cases of suicide lead to damnation. I wouldn't bet on anyone going to heaven who committed suicide. I think the odds are against the person. Besides, suicide is the ultimate statement of unbelief. People commit suicide because they don't have faith that God will help them, and we are saved by faith.

We have received many angry emails over my answer, usually because someone has lost a close friend or relative to suicide. Here is a sample email that represents many irate emails along with my response.

Reaction: I may be reacting in the flesh and you probably won’t even get this, but I cannot sleep until I write this. Maybe I should write it and then click delete. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that I am so very grateful to have and grow. I lost a dear childhood friend today to suicide. He was an awesome athlete in high school. He was an awesome Christian who did not mind showing it to his peers. He was an All-American High School Honor Roll student. His entire family are Christians.

I was disturbed today, that my little sister said he is going to hell. I do not believe this. I do not believe the sure ticket to HELL is to commit suicide. My God is more loving and merciful than that to his people.

I am disturbed at your opinion about suicide, also. I do not believe it has a place on the net for those people searching for answers and comfort at a time like this. It is an opinion not an answer. No where in the Bible does it say suicide is a sure ticket to Hell. I cannot find anything in the Bible that says you go to hell for committing suicide.

I would like to encourage you to take your opinion of something unknown off the Internet. I think it is very damaging to those who have a personal relationship with God and those who I hope come to know him.

Ann

Tom’s Response: I sympathize with your grief, but it would be a mistake for me to tell people that they can make heaven and still commit suicide. God is merciful and if people make heaven despite suicide, wonderful! But there is no scripture to prove you can, so I believe it is best to fear God so much that you would never commit such an act. Peter says, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinner" (1 Pet 4:18)

Committing suicide is not a sure ticket to hell, because there is no ticket to hell. It is the other way around, Jesus is the ticket to heaven, however, Jesus said many will say that He is Lord, but He will reply, "Depart from me." Faith is not simply mentally agreeing to the facts of the gospel, but being changed by the gospel. And then one must continue in faith and not give in to unbelief. There is no "once saved, always saved" promise from God. Even if it were true that someone was saved, that does not mean that his or her salvation is "unconditionally secured." One still must persevere and trust God to the end, not end their lives through suicide.

You said that my answer is "very damaging to those who have a personal relationship with God." How could my answer damage someone’s faith?

Maybe what you mean is that someone like yourself who lost a friend through suicide will not be comforted with this article because I refuse to license suicide as a gateway to heaven. For sure my answer won't comfort you.

The article is meant to discourage suicide not to comfort those who lost love ones through suicide. I’m not thinking of you when I write this article, but those who are contemplating this act.

I do understand your grief, but imagine if I told people that they could still make heaven and commit suicide. That message may be what they wanted to hear so they could be given a false sense of security that they will leave their unhappiness here and enter glory in the next life.

A similar message is given to suicide bombers in the Islamic faith. They think that if they kill themselves and others through a Jihad they will enter a wonderful heaven full of virgin wives. This false doctrine gives people courage to go through such a diabolical act.  It should almost go without saying, but any Muslim who murders others through suicide will not make heaven, for the Scriptures say, "No murderer has eternal life" (1 John 3:15).

I think there is a delicate correlation between that and Christian suicide. As long as people think they will enter heaven by such an act, perhaps we unwittingly give people courage to go through with it. I refuse to give anyone such false hope.

Despite what I said, my prayers are with you.

Not all the letters and emails are from angry people. Some have written to express gratitude for the article, because it saved their lives. Here is one such email:

I want to live: I am responding to your post on suicide. I want to tell you how you saved my life. I have been so depressed; I live with a chronic illness and am in an unhappy marriage. I have two kids who I adore and I try to keep the family together for them. However, lately I have thought about taking my life so that I can get out of pain, both physically and mentally. I was raised Catholic and believed that you can not go to heaven if you commit suicide so I surfed the internet wanting to find something that says different so that I could go ahead and do it. I came across your message and the post after it. It made me look at things differently and for the first time in over a year, I want to live. I know that I will get through this and anything else that comes my way. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Had your message been any different, or not have been on the internet, there is no telling what could have happened. So keep it on, it may help save someone else's life someday, it saved mine! Thank you so much.

Michelle

Please keep this going on the internet, You saved my life today, September 26, 2009. I was going to take all my pills today and go to sleep for good. I came across your web site and changed my mind. I am a believer in Jesus, he is my Lord and Savior. Jesus is the only way to heaven. You can not get there on your own. Thank you very much.

Kim

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