Six months ago, I wanted to write on what the Bible says about Christians who commit suicide. I had heard stories of Christians who committed suicide because of sexual problems, adultery, and many other moral issues. Although heartbreaking, the stories were too distant to elicit an emotion.
I am glad I didn’t write that article.
You probably can tell I wanted to write about a faceless, nameless and unknown Christian who committed suicide. And the article was going to be an exhibit of how much I knew about what the Bible says about suicide. It was about me and not for suicide survivors – the men, women, and children who lost a father, a brother and a friend to suicide.
Writing this article, I had a haunting pain in my heart. My head spun around like a broken Ferris wheel in an abandoned amusement park. An avalanche of questions hammered my peanut brain, and I couldn’t take it. I could feel my body crumbling inside me with each thought and memory of days gone by.
If only I…
No amount of rationalization, biblicism or self-righteousness can heal the pain haunting suicide survivors.
Suicide doesn’t only take away unceremoniously those we love. It leaves behind ten thousand questions that won’t be answered in this life. And it leaves a fresh wound on the hearts of the suicide survivors – a wound no amount of rationalization, biblicism or self-righteousness can heal.
My heart was wounded, it hurt and was in great shock.
What do you do when a friend commits suicide?
I rarely read the news; it’s negative, depressing, and often fake. However, one of the days I saw a headline that caught my attention: Gospel musician kills self on video after a fight with his girlfriend. I was angry. And I was pissed.
What kind of gospel musician does this dumb thing? Was this girl really worth dying for? This guy was probably a foolish, self-centered and attention-seeking moron. And he called himself a Christian? What’s wrong with these gospel musicians?
I was angry because I believed his actions brought the kingdom of God into disrepute. Importantly, I was angry because I thought God hired me to be his PR manager. And I was angry because I felt this gospel musician was an embarrassment to Christianity.
I knew the guy who had committed suicide. We were friends in Bible school. Smart, soft-spoken, and humble. No, he was far from being the dumb, egotistic, self-centered, and attention-seeking label I gave him. He commanded the room when he entered, and everyone loved him. Above all, he was a talented musician.
But beneath the smiles, lay a tortured soul. Only recently, did discover that the time he didn’t come for class, he was in the hospital after attempting suicide.
When we asked him about where he was he didn’t say much, “I was sick.” That’s all he could say. We prayed for him and forgot about it. I could have done better; I could have offered my ears, to listen to his story. We all have a story, sometimes the story brings us into depression.
So, what happens when a Christian commits suicide?
- You become angry at yourself for no apparent reason
- You blame yourself for not being there for your friend
- You’re filled with guilt because you’re convinced you could have helped if only you knew
- You’re filled with shame because you think people now believe you’re a lousy friend
- You have dozens of unanswered questions that you know might remain unanswered
What does the Bible say about suicide?
Because suffering is within the realm of God’s comprehension and knowledge, it becomes a point of contact between us and God. – Albert Y Hsu, Grieving Suicide
The Bible does not say much about Christians who commit suicide. Only six suicides are recorded in the Bible, five in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. Interestingly, besides Saul’s armor bearer, all the other five were notable of their wickedness; Judas, Saul, Abimelech, Ahithopel, and Zimri.
But that doesn’t mean all people who commit suicide are wicked. Even the great apostle, Paul once considered committing suicide (2 Corinthians 1:8), “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”
Before you get judgmental on people who commit suicide, you need to remember you don’t know what they went through. I have to learn to forgive myself, forgive my friend and remember the lady blamed for the suicide – she is in far more worse pain than me.
I believe that, as Christians, we should worry less about whether Christians who have killed themselves go to heaven, and worry more about how we can help people like them find hope and joy in living. Our most urgent problem is not the morality of suicide but the spiritual and mental despair that drags people down to it.
-Lewis B. Smedes
I agree with Lewis B. Smedes, “Loved ones who have died at their own hands we can safely trust to our gracious God. Loved ones whose spirits are even now slipping so silently toward death, these are our burden.” And I will add, loved ones who are burdened by guilt and shame after losing a relative or friend to suicide need the liberating Gospel.
What role does the church have in ensuring its members maintain a healthy emotional well-being?