Questions and Answers
Q: What does the Bible say about suicide?
What, if anything, does the Bible reveal concerning suicide? The term suicide is not used in Scripture, however, the act is found within the pages of the Bible. What is suicide? “In a broad sense, suicide is the intentional taking or forfeiting of one’s own life.”1 The most prominent reason for suicide is severe depression. Of course, this article will not attempt to address all the clinical studies, psychological conclusions, or the various aspects of suicide. Neither God, nor the Bible, condones the act of suicide. Though there is no commandment prohibiting suicide, I will provide what God reveals concerning this violent act which seems to plague our society.
Within the pages of the Bible, we find several prominent men who, at a certain time within their lives, desired for their life to come to an end. Numbers 11:15 reveals Moses desired for God to end his life due to the overwhelming responsibility of caring for the Israelites in the wilderness. The prophet Elijah sought God to end his life because he believed he was the last man standing for God, 1 Kings 19:4, 10. Jeremiah, at one point, seemed to have become overwhelmed with his apparent fruitless ministry and the unpopular opinion of him and his ministry by the populace, Jeremiah 20:14-18. He thought it would have been better if he had never been born. Jonah was so gripped with malice and hatred toward the inhabitants of Nineveh that he sought the Lord to take his life when they repented of their sins and turned from their wickedness and to the living God, Jonah 4:3, 8. In Acts 16:27, the Philippian jailer was stopped by Paul from committing suicide when he thought all the prisoners he was responsible for had escaped. All these men contemplated suicide due to severe depression.
The Bible reveals six men who actually took their lives. In Judges 9:54, we have the account of Abimelech, the son of Gideon, forfeiting his life. Samson conducted himself like a suicide “bomber” when he killed himself along with his enemies, Judges 16:30. The first Israelite king, King Saul, ended his life by falling on his own sword, 1 Samuel 31:4. In 2 Samuel 17:23, we are told of Ahithophel who hung himself. Zimri ended his life by burning the house he was in,
1 Kings 16:18. Probably, the most notorious suicide victim was Judas Iscariot who hung himself after betraying Jesus Christ into the custody of those who would crucify Him, Matthew 27:5.
In the examples above, there are both believers and non-believers that battled severe depression. Some won their battle and defeated depression. There were some in both groups who surrendered to the depression and ended their own life. How does one reconcile this tragic and selfish act with the remainder of what the Bible teaches concerning the sanctity of life?
The Bible records Jesus referring to the devil as a liar, a thief, and a murderer, John 10:10. His ultimate desire and goal is the destruction of those he successfully ensnares. Satan uses the facade of escape to lure unsuspecting victims into alcohol, drug, and substance addiction. Satan continues to bombard individuals with guilt and shame tearing them down into a severely depressed state. Within the Word of God we read, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression”, Proverbs 12:25. Individuals become overwhelmed by the influences and cares of this world. People who do not have a personal relationship with the living God through His Son, Jesus Christ, remain defenseless against the schemes and deception of Satan.
Even true believers can become overwhelmed with depression, severe depression, when they neglect the disciplines that promote spiritual growth. Prayer, Bible study, sharing your faith with others, and godly accountability are essentials of the Christian’s maturity in Christ.
Why would someone choose to end their own life? A simplistic answer would be: they became tired of the struggle of life, being overwhelmed by various problems which seemed insurmountable. They attempted to handle life by their own strength. The result: defeat.
Can an individual be forgiven and go to heaven if they commit suicide? To answer this question, one must re-examine God’s offer of salvation. Upon what is salvation and the forgiveness of sin offered? The biblical answer: the grace of God through the Person, Jesus Christ, and His redemptive work: His shed blood and death for our forgiveness, His bodily burial, and His physical resurrection for our eternal life, Romans 5:8-11; 10: 9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; and Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9. Our salvation is never based upon our performance, but upon Jesus Christ alone! In Christ all our sins are forgiven: past, present, and future. Praise the Lord!
God’s promise of eternal life is to those who repent of their sin and trusts Jesus Christ for their salvation. True believers will never perish, John 3:16; 5:24; 10:27-28. So the questions here are: How long is eternal? What does it mean, “they shall never perish”? Eternal is never ending and never perish means—never perish! When a believer dies he immediately goes into the presence of God in heaven, 2 Corinthians 5:8. When an unsaved person dies they go immediately to hell.
A believer who commits suicide will regret they did not trust the Lord with their life and lean upon His strength and wisdom to live life. How can we win the battle with depression and defeat Satan’s destructive attacks against us? First, we must have a personal relationship with the Lord. We must repent of our sins, and in faith turn to and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are powerless against Satan without the power of the Lord Jesus.
We must appropriate that which promotes spiritual growth. We must be a people of prayer. Peter wrote we are to cast all our care upon the Lord, for He cares for us, 1 Peter 5:7. Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”, Philippians 4:6-7.
The bottom line is Satan desires to destroy your life. God desires to give you life abundantly. You must choose who you will give your life to.
1 Ed Hidnson, Ergun Caner Gen. Ed., The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008) 461, article written by contributing author, Mark Foreman.