Q1. CAN PEOPLE KILL THEMSELVES?
No. People can only attempt to kill themselves. God is the only One with the power to separate body from soul. From His perspective, no one dies early and no one dies late. We are all in this world for as long as He wants us to be. No one can successfully die without God’s permission and cooperation.
Q2. IS COMMITTING SUICIDE AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL REBELLION?
It depends. Spiritual rebellion is when your soul understands that God wants you to do something, but you tell Him to stuff it. Spiritual rebellion is a defiant soul attitude, while committing suicide is an action. The same action can be driven by different motivations. For example, God might convict fireman John to run into a burning building in order to try and save someone who is trapped inside. John’s actions are suicidal, because he knows that he won’t be able to get out of the building in time. But because he is acting out of obedience to God, he is doing the right thing and God is pleased with him. Fred, on the other hand, is a different story. Fred is also a fireman, and Fred knows that if he runs into a certain building, he’ll never make it out in time. Fred is being convicted by God to stay where he is, but because Fred wants to kill himself, he disobeys God and runs into the building anyway. Fred wants other people to mistake his suicide attempt for a heroic effort to save someone, even though Fred knows that there is no one trapped inside the building. Because Fred is intentionally blowing off God’s convictions, Fred’s suicide is an act of spiritual rebellion and God is displeased with him.
Before someone can be guilty of rebelling against God, they have to understand what He wants them to do in a certain situation. Before someone can physically obey God, they need God to give them the resources. A lack of education and a lack of resources are common factors in suicide situations. For example, Joe is convinced that God blames him for the death of his daughter, who drowned in a pool on Joe’s watch. Joe is wrong—God really is not holding a grudge against him. But because Joe does not understand how God actually views him, Joe is very easy for demons to drag down into despair. When demons tell Joe that God hates him and wants him to die, Joe believes them and kills himself. In this situation, Joe’s suicidal action was not an attempt to rebel against God. On the contrary, Joe desperately wants to please God. He wants to please God so much that he can’t stand the thought of living if God is not pleased with him. It was wrong beliefs and a lack of understanding which motivated Joe to kill himself. Joe thought it was actually God telling him to die when in reality it was demons. Joe has the right soul attitudes—he wants to please God. He’s just very confused about what God’s will is. In Joe’s case, he’s going to be very pleasantly surprised to find himself in Heaven.
Then there is Ruth. Ruth is a Christian who understands that God does not want her to kill herself. But Ruth also has a chemical imbalance in her brain which is causing her to feel deeply despaired. Ruth’s soul wants to obey God, but she does not have the emotional resources to resist the temptation to try and kill herself in order to escape her terrible depression. So Ruth does kill herself, and like Joe, she suddenly finds herself in Heaven. Like Joe, Ruth was not rebelling against God by trying to kill herself. While Joe lacked understanding about God’s will, Ruth lacked the resources she needed to turn her soul’s desires into earthsuit actions. Because God is the One who educates us about His will, and because He is the One who controls how many resources we have in a given moment, God does not blame either Ruth or Joe for killing themselves.
Q3. HOW OFTEN DOES GOD BOTCH SUICIDE ATTEMPTS?
He does this far more often than people realize. It’s mainly successful attempts that you hear about, or unsuccessful attempts which left evidence behind, such as scarred wrists or a bottle of missing pills. But there are many suicide attempts which are never discussed by the people who make them. Many people who contemplate killing themselves never commit to a specific method. Among those who choose a method, many never make a serious attempt to try it. And of the many methods available, many leave no signs. For example, if a man keeps a loaded gun in his house, you can’t tell just by looking at the gun if the man has ever held it up to his head with the intention to pull the trigger. A man who is planning to drive off of a cliff can look perfectly rational when he gets into his car for the last time.
If humans had an accurate understanding of how often God botches suicide attempts, they’d be more hesitant to try them. As a general rule, God does not allow us to choose when or how we will die. Death usually catches us by surprise, and sometimes that surprise comes when we find ourselves unable to stop a suicide plan which we have already put into motion.
Q4. WHEN PEOPLE COMMIT SUICIDE, DO THEY END UP IN HELL?
The manner in which you die has nothing to do with where you end up in eternity. Salvation is obtained through sufficient submission to the real Gods (see Salvation Q&A).
The common belief that committing suicide will automatically land a person in Hell is based on a misconception about unpardonable sins. Many people believe there is a whole list of sins that God will never forgive. Suicide is often included on that list. Some also believe that there are certain qualities you can have which will cause God to automatically reject you–such as being homosexual or being dark-skinned.
The theory that there are certain sins which God would never forgive is an absolute lie (see Understanding Unpardonable Sins: Lies vs. Truth). God judges humans by their soul response to Him–not by their external actions, earthsuit qualities, or by how other humans perceive them.
Q5. SOMEONE I KNOW COMMITTED SUICIDE AND CERTAIN PEOPLE ARE SAYING I’M TO BLAME. DOES GOD BLAME ME AS WELL?
God judges you by the way your soul responds to Him, not by how other humans respond to you. The judgements other humans cast on you do not play a role in how God judges you.
Remember that you can’t be guilty of rebelling against God until you first understand what it is He wants from you in a given situation. Someone lecturing you after the fact does not count as God convicting you beforehand. Perhaps it’s true that you treated the suicidal person badly. Perhaps you abused them intentionally and with a clear understanding that God was convicting you to make different choices. In such a case, God is going to convict you to repent out of your rebellious attitude towards Him. Once you do that and you embrace a soul attitude of sincerely wanting to please God, you are going to be in a good position with Him.
Because humans do not have the power to give and take lives, God does not blame them for doing so. God only judges us by our intentions. When two men wish to harm someone, but only one man follows through with actions, both men are going to be convicted by God to repent out of their bad attitudes. This is how it works with God’s moral code: He convicts us when we’re doing wrong, and He tells us what to do instead. When we reject His convictions and keep doing wrong, we get in trouble for our soul response to Him, not for our outward actions.
Because humans mainly judge each other by actions instead of intentions, when humans see you do something which they feel is wrong, they can easily decide to hold a grudge against you. Because they are quick to condemn, slow to forgive, and stingy with grace, humans are far more difficult to succeed with than God is. Often humans will demand that you do certain behaviors to amend for past wrongs. If those behaviors are impossible (such as “bring my son back to life again”), then you end up stuck on the receiving end of someone’s hate. But with God, things are much easier, for He always gives us a way to immediately get back into a good place with Him. Repentance is a change of soul attitude, not a list of behaviors. Repentance takes one nanosecond to do, and because God is so very gracious, He always accepts our sincere attempts to repent out of wrong soul attitudes.
If you feel you’ve played an active role in driving someone to suicide and you are now having difficulty moving on from the past, you need to start by aligning with God’s judgment system. God says it is your soul’s response to Him which matters most—not how well you treat other humans. Secondly, you need to recognize how limited you are. You can’t go back and change the past. You don’t control life and death. Because God wants you to succeed with Him, He does not demand the impossible from you. This means that God is not going to say, “Until you change what you did in the past, I won’t accept you.” Humans say these kinds of things, but God does not. So if you’re stuck in the past, you need to ask God to help you move forward (see Overcoming Shame).
Q6. SINCE GOD IS SOVEREIGN, HE COULD EASILY STOP PEOPLE FROM EVER BECOMING SUICIDAL, SO WHY DOESN’T HE? WHAT POSSIBLE GOOD CAN COME FROM STRUGGLING WITH THAT KIND OF MISERY, EVEN IF YOU DON’T FOLLOW THROUGH WITH ANY SERIOUS ATTEMPTS TO KILL YOURSELF?
Every trial we go through down here is chosen by God for the purpose of drawing us closer to Him. There are many spiritual benefits that can be gained from grappling with suicide, since grappling with suicide involves grappling with many false beliefs about how God views us and what we are personally capable of. Personally struggling with suicide also helps us develop compassion and grace towards others who struggle. We learn how untrue it is that simply “thinking positive” is a guaranteed remedy for depression, and we gain new insight about what it means to be dependent on God.
No human is immune to becoming suicidal, but until we realize this, it’s very easy to be condescending and cold towards those who struggle in this way. Since God is such a kind and merciful Being, if we are going to grow close to Him, we must become better acquainted with His gracious qualities. Any trial which involves us bumping up against our own limitations can result in great spiritual gains. Rather than decide that certain struggles have no redeeming value, we need to trust God’s superior wisdom and ask Him to help us grow closer to Him through every trial that He brings into our lives.
Dealing with Death: Eight Lies that Keep Us Stuck in the Past
Why We Shouldn’t Mourn for the Dead
Help For Murderers: Finding Peace With A God Who Loves You
Overcoming the Guilt of Failing to Protect
Repentant Sinners: Is it wrong to stop feeling bad about the past?
Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests
Mind Wars: Defending Against Demonic Voices in Your Head