Do people who commit suicide go to hell? By Darrel Wiltrout
Suicide takes place in scripture at least seven times (Abimelech, Samson, Saul, Saul’s armor-bearer, Ahitophel, Zimri, and Judas Iscariot) but surprisingly in each instance, the morality of suicide is not specifically addressed.
As living creations of God, people do not normally wish to die. The act of suicide is not the desire to die but rather the desire to no longer live in pain. The most common emotion in suicidal crisis is not hostility but despair. Suicidal persons often feel trapped by overwhelming and unbearable mental and physical pain.
In light of this, if you are a survivor living with the aftermath of a friend or loved one’s suicide, you should probably understand that he or she was not choosing death so much as choosing to end their unbearable pain. The fact that he or she was unable to see any other possible option testifies to the severe mental and emotional strain they were living under at the time.
God does not condemn those who are in despair. In fact, the scripture teaches us that God offers hope and peace. Psalm 34:18 says, ‘The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
But as to the issue of going to heaven or hell, scripture is very clear. It is a mistake to think that hell is for bad people and heaven is where all good people go when they die. The Bible teaches that heaven is a place prepared by God for those who love Him and desire to be with Him (see Jn. 14:1-7) and hell is a place for those who want nothing to do with God (see Mt.25:31-46).
Suicide breaks God’s compassionate heart. I see no scriptural evidence that suicide is a mortal sin (1 John 5:16), for nothing can separate the child of God from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39). People do not go to hell because of the type of death they die but rather the type of life they lived. Thus suicide by itself does not send a person to hell. What sends a person to hell is their choice to deny the Creator God his rightful place in their lives while they are living. It is the sin of saying ‘no’ to the free gift of salvation from the Savior Jesus Christ that results in a person going to hell.