In the past year, several of my friends have lost friends to suicide and as a result there's been a lot of discussion about suicide, the survivors of suicide, and mostly about the intensely emotional nature for all involved. This has led me to a lot of thinking, copious writing, much deleting, and to the realization that I cannot write about this without getting emotional, or while making any sort of coherent sense. So I figure I'll just type and see where it gets me...
Suicide is a one-way ticket to hell.
That's what many of us are told, what many of us believe. This is not what I believe, and I'm going to attempt to tell you why, from a Christian perspective - because is was a Christian perspective that I was subjected to when I was in a place where death seemed preferable to life (to put it mildly). It was a Christian perspective that added to my despair. I have a different Christian perspective:
Those who commit suicide are forgiven.
Suicide, by someone in overwhelming emotional and mental pain, is NOT a one-way ticket to hell . Someone experiencing extreme mental and emotional anguish is not in their right mind. The majority of suicidal people are mentally ill, and last time I checked, mental illness is not a sin. In fact, it's something to be concerned about, to be taken seriously, and to be treated.
As a Christian woman who at one point in my life lived in such a state of despair and mental torture that I was blind not only to the Light, but to reality, I would hope that, if I'd succeeded in killing myself, God would have had mercy on my soul. In fact, I'm confident He would have.
"But if you kill yourself, you're committing murder and you'll go to hell."
Let's think about this for a moment. Do all people to kill other people go to hell? Police officers? Soldiers? Those who kill others in self defense? Jesus himself forgave the murderer on the cross when he was crucified. In other places in the Bible, murderers like Saul (Paul) and Moses are redeemed. God forgives our sins, including murder.
"But if you commit suicide, you can't repent for your sins, so you go straight to hell."
By God's grace we are forgiven our sins. As we live our lives, we acknowledge our sins and ask forgiveness. When you kill yourself, there isn't an opportunity to repent, but that doesn't mean you aren't forgiven. If you die in a car accident and the last words out of your mouth are "Oh, my God!" you do not go to hell because you didn't have time to repent for taking the name of the Lord in vain. God is merciful and just. Jesus bears all of our sins. If we die without asking forgiveness for every sin we've ever committed, God still forgives those sins. Jesus died for us, bearing our sins - so if he bore the sins of the person who committed suicide, he bore the sin of suicide as well. Jesus saves completely - one cannot be partially saved.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are saved through faith - through the gift of God - not by what we do. Salvation is a gift, given fully and with love.
"Then you're saying that it's OK for people to kill themselves."
No. Suicide is never the right choice, although to many who attempt suicide it seems like the only choice at the time. This is something you cannot understand unless you've been there. Really. No one's imagination is that good. Suicide doesn't leave the world a better place - suicide robs the world of a beautiful soul.
If you are ever the victim of someone else's suicide, let your own heart be at peace knowing all is not lost. If you ever know someone who attempted suicide and failed, say these things to them, "I love you. I forgive you. I love you." If you are ever at that place where your death seems like the only option, get help - and know that I love you.
If you need help or think someone needs help, call 1-800-SUICIDE or find help where you live here: http://suicideprevention.wikia.com/wiki/International_Suicide_Prevention_Directory