Is Suicide acceptable to avoid Rape?

Greetings! I recall reading (years ago) an opinion given back in the middle ages, during the Muslim invasions of Europe. There were numerous examples of the Muslim soldiers gang-raping the women when conquering a city, frequently raping the women to death. The ones who were left alive could be taken back as booty, to be sold into a harem, never to see a Christian face again. The question arose that, in the face of such defilement (there’s a reason rape used to be called “a fate worse than death”), what were the acceptable options for Christian women. It was decided that in cases where (for example) the woman has been chased to the top of a tower and her only visible options are to suffer defilement or to throw herself off the tower to protect her virtue, that this act of suicide was morally acceptable (not preferable, but acceptable) and would not be considered a sin of despair as an ordinary act of suicide would be. It would fall into the same class as several of the early Church saints with the title, “Virgin and Martyr” – women who fought against their attackers to the point of death.

My question is if this view is acceptable: to choose to kill yourself rather than suffer defilement?


Pray to saint Philomena on the specifics, but I’d think the option is, make it so they can only get to you by killing you, give them the choice and the blame- fight until they kill you, as the chastity martyrs did.

My thoughts would be that throwing yourself off a building would only be ok if you were doing it hoping for the off-chance of an escape (literal escape, not a euphemism for suicide). Otherwise, you’re trying to take control over when life ends, which would be sinful.

Such a situation is unimaginable and I would pray that no one ever has to endure it. However, speaking hypothetically, I think it would be sinful to commit suicide. It is up to God alone to decide when a life begins or ends, and it would not be right to end it even to prevent this defilement. But I think that someone has said it already that if you try to escape knowing that you could be killed, this would be justifiable because the decision is not yours to die.

1 Like

I would imagine that it is still not acceptable, but the sin would not be mortal because of the duress.

God Bless

I would guess that it would be sinful to commit suicide, but I think it would not be a mortal sin if you did, considering the circumstances.

Didn’t St. Appollonia walk into a fire in defiance of her torturers, who were threatening her with the fire? And what about the famed cyanide pills spies are said to carry in case of capture? They also commit suicide to escape more torture than they can handle. Is that OK? Just trying to straighten out what constitutes suicide.:confused:

St Appollonia may be more a case of her being certain that they were going to burn her anyway and embracing her martyrdom - a bit like Joan of Arc choosing to be burned for what she knew was right.

As for the spy - well, in such a case your information might lead to the deaths of many people. Their lives are certainly a more pressing reason why you might commit suicide than the mere preservation of your virginity. Such cases aren’t clear-cut at all, it would depend on the level of duress.

That’s kind of like the question, “If you were forced to receive the mark of the beast or be killed, which would you choose?”

Another question somewhat similar is, “given the choice between allowing someone to do this to someone or killing them, which would you choose?”

Oh, and one last one: "If God had to choose between penalizing someone so wicked and someone who took desperate and terrible frantic action in a state of hysteria while trying to escape from such wickedness, do you think he would base his judgment mainly on bits and pieces of the bible, or on love and understanding for the most precious of his children?

In such a case, no it is not a sin. One could argue that SS M. Kolbe, Agatha, Lucy, Dorothy, etc…even Jesus all committed suicide. They chose a path that they knew would lead to their death. There is a Saint (I cannot recall her name) that did, in fact, throw herself off the roof rather than leave her home with soldiers that she knew would defile her. This woman is a Saint, and she’s applauded for choosing her virtue over her life. One could argue to fight back, but many women are not strong enough and are aware of this setback.

Protecting national secrets and national is different than using suicide as an escape from the troubles of life. When someone gives their life for their country they are doing it for a greater good.

I don’t think anyone can really answer that question. In the Old Testament Book of Daniel, Susanna choses death rather than rape. She is presented as preserving her dignity. However, keep in mind they were blackmailing her into sexual acts.

Oftentimes, a women is physically forced into rape and there is nothing she can do about it. There is no way to avoid it. A man can overpower a woman very easily.

That doesn’t make it ok. The ends do not justify the means.

Killing yourself to avoid capture in an effort to protect secrets that would harm others if they were released is not suicide, it’s laying down your life for others.

Take fighter pilots who were about to be captured by the Japanese during WWII for example. I think it would be noble for them to end their life before the Japanese got a hold of them if the pilot was worried about spilling important information (airfield locations, troop movements, future bombing targets).

Noble, sure, but there was a certain nobility in Satan’s refusal to bow down to man. Life and death are not man’s to decide. I feel the Catechism is pretty clear on this point.

So, you feel that what Jesus did was “noble” but still a sin? Nice…:rolleyes:

Jesus didn’t commit suicide. He allowed himself to be killed, which isn’t the same thing. (Though Jesus is God, so he does have the right to decide when life ends, so it wouldn’t necessarily have been sinful for him anyway).

You think it would be a sin for a captured soldier to kill himself rather than divulge secrets that will get his friends killed? :ehh:

St. Maximilian Kolbe gave up his life (Suicide no?) so that a complete stranger who had a family could go home. Was St. Maximilian Kolbe sinning by doing that?

Yes. Suicide is intrinsically evil (because humans do not have the right to kill themselves). Good intentions cannot change that.

Once again, he allowed himself to be killed, which is different from killing himself. He said, “If you are going to kill, kill me rather than them.” Suicide, on the other hand, says, “I should die now.”

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