Do you go to Hell if you commit suicide?

Hello All,

I am feeling very troubled. A friend of mine who had for many years struggled with addictions and mental illness took her own life last month. She was going through some really hard times, and I think she just couldn’t see any end in sight, poor thing. I don’t know why she didn’t ask for help. I feel terrible that I wasn’t there for her.

I have been praying for the peaceful repose of her soul, but feel terrible that I might not be able to see her in Heaven. Is she condemned to Hell for having taken her own life?

=AngelaBarbara;6742308]Hello All,

I am feeling very troubled. A friend of mine who had for many years struggled with addictions and mental illness took her own life last month. She was going through some really hard times, and I think she just couldn’t see any end in sight, poor thing. I don’t know why she didn’t ask for help. I feel terrible that I wasn’t there for her.

I have been praying for the peaceful repose of her soul, but feel terrible that I might not be able to see her in Heaven. Is she condemned to Hell for having taken her own life?

***The official position of the Church is theologically sound, and like Jesus Himself; filled with understanding and compassion.

“We are NOT to Judge; not to assume” that these pour souls ar lost for eternity.

This is founded on the understanding that taking ones own life is driven by extreme circumstances, which well might effect that persons cupability. [Personal guilt]. It is well to assume the best and to pray and offer Masses for them.***

God’s continued blessings

I found these links up in the Ask An Apologist forum and they look good so I hope they help.

[LIST]
]* Can culpability be completely mitigated in a suicide?**
]* How do I answer my children's questions about suicide?**
[/LIST]
Here is the section from the Catechism on suicide.

Suicide

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

[quote="AngelaBarbara, post:1, topic:201837"]
Hello All,

I am feeling very troubled. A friend of mine who had for many years struggled with addictions and mental illness took her own life last month. She was going through some really hard times, and I think she just couldn't see any end in sight, poor thing. I don't know why she didn't ask for help. I feel terrible that I wasn't there for her.

I have been praying for the peaceful repose of her soul, but feel terrible that I might not be able to see her in Heaven. Is she condemned to Hell for having taken her own life?

[/quote]

That is an interesting question, considering the catholic church up until recently denied a christian burial for those who took their lives. Now, they accept them.
I'm sure someone here can explain the sudden change of heart the church took.

Indeed, we do not know the answer to this. In order to commit a mortal sin, a person has to be fully consenting. A person in such distress that they would take their own life is hardly in a state to give a rational, full consent to their actions. Let us pray for mercy on your friend's soul. Grant her Eternal Rest, O Lord...

[quote="CarrieH, post:5, topic:201837"]
Indeed, we do not know the answer to this. In order to commit a mortal sin, a person has to be fully consenting. A person in such distress that they would take their own life is hardly in a state to give a rational, full consent to their actions. Let us pray for mercy on your friend's soul. Grant her Eternal Rest, O Lord...

[/quote]

Your reply does not make it clear why the Catholic Church refused a Christian burial to those who died from suicide. Can you elaborate a bit, to clarify why they changed heart on this?

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:4, topic:201837"]
That is an interesting question, considering the catholic church up until recently denied a christian burial for those who took their lives. Now, they accept them.
I'm sure someone here can explain the sudden change of heart the church took.

[/quote]

Greater understanding of the psychological distress that leads to suicide. In former times, it was assumed that people were choosing to kill themselves willfully, and for the purpose of "murdering the whole world" as certain 19th century writers phrased it.

Today, while we still understand that suicide is an angry action, we also understand that people only become that angry when they are under unendurable stress, and when they have suffered a total mental collapse.

This could be taken to mean that the church is constantly in need of updating their understanding of all sorts of distress, and not just this particular kind.?

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:4, topic:201837"]
That is an interesting question, considering the catholic church up until recently denied a christian burial for those who took their lives. Now, they accept them.
I'm sure someone here can explain the sudden change of heart the church took.

[/quote]

How do I answer my children's questions about suicide?

[quote="CarrieH, post:5, topic:201837"]
Indeed, we do not know the answer to this. In order to commit a mortal sin, a person has to be fully consenting. A person in such distress that they would take their own life is hardly in a state to give a rational, full consent to their actions. Let us pray for mercy on your friend's soul. Grant her Eternal Rest, O Lord...

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:8, topic:201837"]
This could be taken to mean that the church is constantly in need of updating their understanding of all sorts of distress, and not just this particular kind.?

[/quote]

We are constantly learning new things, yes - and reacting in an appropriately pastoral manner, when we do. :)

Keep in mind, nobody else realized there was something psychologically wrong with people who were committing suicide back then, either - and it would have been considered "pandering" to give them a Christian burial.

Indeed, in support of the idea of not "rewarding" a suicide with positive attention after death, the story is told of some girls in ancient Rome who, one after the other, were committing suicide. At the beginning, the girls were being given lavish funerals with fine music, being buried in beautiful graveyards, with much weeping and wailing - and more and more girls were committing suicide, to the point where the prefect of that region realized that there were going to be no more marriageable girls in that age group (thus spelling death for the whole community), if something was not done. He realized that at least part of the problem was attention-seeking behaviour, so the next girl who committed suicide, he hung her body out in the desert for the buzzards to eat, and forbade her friends and family from mourning her death.

No more girls in that community committed suicide, after that.

i don't know if that's a true story or not, but the point of the story is that, if you want to prevent people from committing suicide, don't reward them for it - which is part of what was behind the Church's negative attitude towards giving Christian burial to suicides.

Today, we realize that things are more complicated than that. I suppose if there were some risk of copy-cat suicides in a particular situation, the Church would keep the funeral very low-key and quiet.

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:8, topic:201837"]
This could be taken to mean that the church is constantly in need of updating their understanding of all sorts of distress, and not just this particular kind.?

[/quote]

The Church simply says that we cannot judge the state of one who commits suicide because we don't know all of the variables involved. Suicide, with full knowledge and consent of the will, is still a grave sin but one who has a diminished mental capacity is not held to the same degree of culpability as one who has their full mental faculties. I'm sure that in past times people were not surprised by certain actions of those who were known to be mentally unbalanced and gave a certain amount of leeway in dealing with them; it is the same thing.

I will be praying for the repose of your friend's soul.

As others have stated, we do not know how the Lord judges these situations. But we can hope in His Mercy, which is great.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. :crossrc:

[quote="Timothysis, post:12, topic:201837"]
The Church simply says that we cannot judge the state of one who commits suicide because we don't know all of the variables involved. Suicide, with full knowledge and consent of the will, is still a grave sin but one who has a diminished mental capacity is not held to the same degree of culpability as one who has their full mental faculties. I'm sure that in past times people were not surprised by certain actions of those who were known to be mentally unbalanced and gave a certain amount of leeway in dealing with them; it is the same thing.

[/quote]

All you are doing is telling me what the catholic church finally changed it's mind about.
You are not telling me why so many people for so long had to suffer her ignorance on the topic.

[quote="jmcrae, post:7, topic:201837"]
In former times, it was assumed that people were choosing to kill themselves willfully

[/quote]

Which is why assumptions about salvation of another is never a good idea. How sad the anquish and distress the Church put people thru in the past whose loved ones may have committed suicide. Mortal sin. No Christian burial for your loved one. Seems God would have told the Apostolic successors not to assume mortal sin even while society was still learning if the successors are actually to define mortal sin. This is why I take what the successors say with a grain of salt. What is mortal sin yesterday may not be tomorrow as they learn more. It's sorta like one bishop saying it's a mortal sin if you don't obey my decree and attend Mass Nov 1 or 40 days after Easter. And another saying don't worry just attend on the Sundays.

[quote="RHC, post:13, topic:201837"]
I will be praying for the repose of your friend's soul.

As others have stated, we do not know how the Lord judges these situations. But we can hope in His Mercy, which is great.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. :crossrc:

[/quote]

Angela, I as well will keep your friend and you in my prayers. God bless you both and peace be with you in knowing your dear friend is in the hands of our all-merciful and loving God. Trust Him and His infinite wisdom and understanding by having faith you will indeed meet again in heaven. I have faith you will indeed. May God grant your dear friend eternal peace and peace to you as you trust Him in faith. Amen.

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:14, topic:201837"]
All you are doing is telling me what the catholic church finally changed it's mind about.
You are not telling me why so many people for so long had to suffer her ignorance on the topic.

[/quote]

Suicide is STILL a grave sin; that has not changed. What you call "ignorance" has to do with the degree of culpability one has who commits the sin. In former days, more culpability was applied because of issues that are more commonly understood today. Don't we all suffer from someone's ignorance even today, too? If you are seeking perfection, you had better cast your glance Heavenward or you will wind up being disappointed.

[quote="Timothysis, post:17, topic:201837"]
Suicide is STILL a grave sin; that has not changed. What you call "ignorance" has to do with the degree of culpability one has who commits the sin. In former days, more culpability was applied because of issues that are more commonly understood today. Don't we all suffer from someone's ignorance even today, too? If you are seeking perfection, you had better cast your glance Heavenward or you will wind up being disappointed.

[/quote]

I'm not claiming moral authority and truth. The Catholic Church does, and did so and will do so.
And, was wrong.

[quote="Timothysis, post:17, topic:201837"]
f you are seeking perfection, you had better cast your glance Heavenward or you will wind up being disappointed.

[/quote]

:amen: Now only if the Catholic Church understood this. :sad_yes:

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:18, topic:201837"]
I'm not claiming moral authority and truth. The Catholic Church does, and did so and will do so.
And, was wrong.

[/quote]

Good pt. The Church can't be perfect and infallible on morals but not perfect and wrong all at the same time.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.