Suicide and eternity

Many acquaintances of acquaintances are committing suicide. In our town there have been four in the first two months of this year. So much heartbreak. Are these people condemned to hell for this act?

God’s fifth commandment forbids suicide. God makes it clear in the Bible that only he—directly or indirectly through his representatives in government—has the right to end a person’s life (Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 31:15; Psalm 90:3; Romans 13:4). God is serious about protecting a person’s life because that is the only time a person has to be brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

In years past, individuals who took their own lives were often treated as a group: they were automatically considered to be people who were lost forever. In more recent times there has been a greater understanding of psychological and mental issues that might have contributed to a person taking his or her life, while still dying in the Christian faith. This does not minimize the seriousness of suicide or its tragic effects on survivors; it provides general explanation only. Certainly, those who end their lives in unbelief are lost forever. Unbelief condemns (Mark 16:16).

Because you and I are not able to look into the hearts of people (1 Samuel 16:7) who take their lives, we are not able to assign motives or reasons for their actions—nor do we attempt to do so. God alone sees what is in the heart at a person’s death, and judgment takes place (Hebrews 9:27). On the Last Day that judgment will be made public (Matthew 25:31-46).

As is the case with any death, the family and friends of a person who has committed suicide need our Christian support. We can direct them to God’s word for the daily strength they need (Psalm 46). We can keep them in our prayers.