Suicide in Christianity

I have always had the idea, that Suicide is a ‘unforgivable’ sin. Is this true? (I am asking all Christians, not just Catholics, or just Protestants, or just Orthodox)

What if someone attempts suicide, is the sin still unforgivable? (This is if the previous question is true)

No sin is unforgiveable if it is repented from, and every millisecond of life is a fresh opportunity for a sinful soul to repent.

Christ spoke of the ‘sin against the Holy Spirit’ being unforgiveable, but in the same breath said that EVERY sin men committed could be forgiven, so it seems logical to conclude as I have above, which is Catholic teaching, and that the ‘sin against the Holy Spirit’ is precisely this failure to repent.

St John Vianney is reported to have consoled someone whose relative threw himself off a bridge with ‘fear not, madam, he repented in between the bridge and the water!’

So neither successful nor unsuccessful attempts at suicide are unforgiveable.

John Donne (who is usually remembered for other things :)) was among the first to suggest that suicide might not be quite the damnable sin his contemporaries, Catholic & “Anglican”, believed.

There are books about attitudes to suicide in the first centuries of Christianity - Augustine devotes some of his “City of God” to discussing whether Christian women who killed themselves to avoid being raped were martyrs or not - in some instances, the Christian tradition has said they are. The Biblical characterswho have been discussed are Samson
in Judges 16 & Razi[a]s in one of the Books of Maccabees - 2, I think.

Samson certainly, & Razi[a]s probably, were not committing suicide, but devoting themselves to destruction: like the Decii Mures in Roman history - one “devoted” himself in 340, & so did his son at a later date. Samson & his Roman counterparts were not “committing suicide” - they were vowing themselves to God (or the gods) so that by their deaths their people might overcome the enemy. By rushing into battle among the Sabines in 340, Q. Decius Mus obtained a victory for his countrymen. By being devoted to God (& thereby, being withdrawn from the realm of the “profane”), Samson was both living out his Nazirite vow (which had been shattered when his hair was shaved by the Philistines, making him “profane”, and living it out in a way which saved his people, because his self-devotion entailed “[dying] with the Philistines”.

That however does not cast much light on suicide.

I personally don’t think suicide is different in God’s eyes from any other sin. I can ask for forgiveness from sin in the morning, and three hours later, I’m sure I have committed a sin for which I haven’t yet asked for forgiveness. If I die then, am I going to Hell? I don’t believe so. So I believe that suicide is not going to keep a Christian out of Heaven.

I also come to this question as the father of a teenager who has been hospitalized twice in the past year for depression and suicide threats. I could consider her depression a spiritual problem or I could take the doctor’s advice and see if medication helps. In a sense, I did both. She is currently taking medication, but we also enlisted several women from our church to help us guide her spiritually to trust more in God, and thankfully her mood is not in as dark a place as it used to be. So if she had committed suicide, I don’t think it would have been as an act of deliberate rebelliousness against God as much as it would have been a disturbed mind trying to escape the torment of her moods.

Catholic theology relating to suicide generally flows something like this:

Murder is sinful; suicide is a form of murder in which the murderer and the victim are the same person.

The “wrong” at issue with suicide is the sin of despair. Despair is the opposite of hope; in fact, it actively denies hope (as in, “You have so much to live for!” “No, I don’t.” “Things will get better!” “I don’t think so”). At its peak, despair actively challenges God’s power and forgiveness; eventually, if the person persists in despair, he or she will begin to feel that not even God cares, and not even God can do anything to help. This is a rejection of God at the most fundamental level.

Despair is not the same as depression. They sound similar, and there is some overlap, but they are not the same. Depression is a mental state that can cause its sufferer to stop caring about life or even actively seek death; despair is a spiritual state that can cause its sufferer to stop caring about life everlasting or even actively seek spiritual death. Despair is a sin; depression is not. They can feed on each other, but they are different things; in fact, depression, like any other mental illness, can mitigate the sufferer’s culpability for despair.

The reason Jesus spoke of the unforgiveable sin (blaspheming the Holy Spirit) is not that God wishes to protect the Holy Spirit from slander or any such nonsense. In the Gospel text, the pharisees and scribes were challenging Jesus’ miracles, saying that He was expelling demons through the devil’s power; in other words, they were witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit but refusing to believe in it, preferring to ascribe God’s actions to evil. Jesus was merely pointing out that a person who refuses to believe in the saving grace of God cannot receive it. The scribes and Pharisees were being obstinate in their disbelief of Jesus and His message; that obstinacy – that sheer refusal to accept God’s grace in the light of overwhelming evidence in support of God – is a self-fulfilling prophecy that prevents the sinner from accepting God’s grace. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit isn’t a crime that results in a punishment of unforgiveness; it’s a decision by the sinner not to accept forgiveness.

Suicide can be like that: killing oneself is often the ultimate act of denial of God’s grace. That’s why it is gravely immoral; it is a fundamental rejection of God and, in many cases, it is a specific decision to do so.

But we trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness. We know that He is perfect and all-knowing. We have free will, and He will not interfere with that; but He knows what we suffer, and He is perfectly capable of offering solace and mercy to those who have killed themselves. The Church teaches quite clearly that, although no one should commit suicide, we may pray for those who have done so, and we should not despair over their fates.

Correct, and I believe with the growing understanding of how depression and anxiety can have clinical factors, the culpability is decreased. I could be wrong however.

Hello…
Its not only in Christianity but also in other religion it sin because God has made you a man, if you suicide than you are going against him…

When I have been asked to preside at a funeral service of a suicide I am always…ALWAYS…in turmoil as to what to say.

I cannot imagine the depth of despair a victim of suicide feels…the absolute hopelessness and aloneness they must be feeling to be unable to turn to a loved one or a friend for help…let alone God. The pressing load of life must be agonizing for them.

We speak much about community…and how the Church of God is never “me” but always “us”…and yet so often “we” never feel any responsibility for the utter lonliness and despair someone experiences when they choose to end their lives.

I wonder about the responsibility we all share for a life that cannot find a helping hand out of a pit of despair so deep the just give up.

I think it was Corrie ten Boom who spoke that “There is not pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”…the Psalmist wrote…“if I make my bed in hell…You are there.”

For the one who faced the bleakness and darkness of despair and aloneness, all we can do is commend them to the One who is Hope Itself.

God forgive US for being blind to another’s need.

Hello…
Suicide in crime in religion so i advise to all that before going to suicide just talk to your God because he has given you the life…

No one knows what Christ will do. Suicide is a form of desparity on this earth. Christ knows how difficult life is. To say people who commit suicide are sent to hell is absolutely absurd. Only God can judge.

No I believe you are absolutely right. We are always told that suffering entered into this world because of the Fall and because of God’s love in granting us Free Will. If one has ever seen a severely clinically depressed person who is irresistible to medications or prayers and consolence, and that fact that that person in all likelihood inherited a genetic code which predetermined their suiciedal tendencies (geneticists call this the suicide gene), culpability is surely decreased.

What of the even worse off, suicidal schizophrenics, who live in the world of voices in their head, halluciantions, and an “alternate universe”? How much does the argument for free will hold with them. What free will (i.e. there’s that female voice in my head again telling me to take that subway jump). How can our Loving, Christian God not see the limits on free will on these persons, especially in light of the recently-discovered chemical biological causes for depression and other diseases of the mind.

I always point people to that great Last-Century Catholic Theologian, Hans Urs von Balthazar and his work Dare We Hope that All are Men are Saved to provide some hope for comfort.

for Catholics there is no unforgiveable sin, save the sin agains the Holy Spirit which is to reject forgiveness, so there is no point in starting this discussion by mis-stating Catholic teaching.

You should know, as you claim to study Taoism and Buddhism, that in Buddhism, desiring to end your life as an escape from suffering, or a desire for annihilation, is considered an evil. The Christian attitude isn’t that much different. There are Buddhist cases of people setting themselves on fire (lots, actually), and while this is highly controversial (especially among Theravadans and some Mahayana), they view this as turning themselves into a means to an end, rather than a desire to escape karma.

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.