Will a Christian who commits suicide go to heaven?

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Christians sometimes live in a cloud of denial. This can be especially true if we are a member of a smaller church, where demographics may protect us from some of the worst pain the world experiences on a daily basis. Surely a real Christian wouldn’t commit suicide would they? Surely a real Christian can’t get depressed? Christians can get depressed, and they do sometimes commit suicide as well.  Every pastor, and every concerned Christian should be ready to act in ways that can reduce the risk of suicide in members of our churches. But this post addresses the theological concern felt by many: what happens to those Christians who take their own lives?  This post is part of an ongoing conversation about mental health here on Patheos. I will also be collating posts that interact with this article, or the question about suicide and religious faith that prompted it. Please link to your own posts in the comment section below and/or by linking back to this article.

For centuries the Christian faith, like most other world religions has discouraged suicide. There are only a few cultures in the world that celebrate suicide as an honorable act. In contrast, the Abrahamic religions all value life as inherently precious and given to us by God, and so see suicide as simply than self-murder. The commandment says “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13).

In times gone past this view of suicide as murder, led to such actions as declining Christian burial to those who had committed suicide. People would have been told that suicide was the quick exit straight to hell. It is easy to see why this fear of retribution would lead to a reduced incidence of suicide. But surely there is a better way?

Religious ethics are often fear based. But, the whole point of Christianity is not legalistic obedience. If we are relying only on the fear of hell to prevent suicide God help us! To the Christian, the lure of sin, any sin, is less when we realize God loves us! It is the love of God and the fellowship of fellow believers that should provide an environment that discourages suicide. People kill themselves because they have lost hope. Our churches should be grace-filled, hope-imparting communities of acceptance. Can our love reach out to the suicidal and those left behind in a more helpful way?

When it comes to other sins Churches have learnt to be gracious. Sexual sin when repented of will not usually lead these days to excommunication. Even abortion, which Christians also believe is murder does not prevent a penitent believer from being assured of the grace of forgiveness and the loving acceptance of the community of the Church.

The Bible is no stranger to the idea that the people of God can commit significant sins. Perhaps one of the most striking examples of this is one of the main heroes of the Bible, King David. He is held up as the King after God’s own heart. There are many chapters detailing his life as the leader of God’s people. And yet, a dirty sordid account is also reported. Oogling a woman bathing naked on the roof, led to an illicit sexual encounter for which Bathsheba’s ability to say “no” is at best questionable, a pregnancy out of wedlock, and then murder to attempt to cover it up. Surely if anyone deserved to be publicly shamed and consigned to a godless eternity it was King David. And yet, the prophet extends God’s grace to David. And David is able to accept God’s forgiveness. When the baby conceived as a result of this sin dies, David takes comfort from his faith that he will one day meet the boy again (see 2 Samuel 12).

Christian’s should never encourage others to commit sin. A true Christian will not find it easy to plan a sin, feeling secure in the advance knowledge that he will be forgiven. Jesus warns us that “by their fruit you shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). In other words, in general terms a Christian should not be comfortable in sinning. We all do sin. We all need God’s grace. But we do not presume upon that grace. Thus, it is quite appropriate for Christian pastor to discourage suicidal acts by explaining they are a sin, one that is of course terribly wasteful. Suicide destroys not just one life, but potentially those left behind who may be consumed by grief that has a particular edge to it when the person took their own life.

But, we can at the same time believe that God is gracious. None of us is saved by our own effort. We are all saved by the grace of God that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. It is a fundamental truth that at the moment of our salvation God forgives every sin we have ever or will ever commit. Such amazing grace should motivate us to want to live a godly life for him, not to recklessly commit sin.

Some will argue, but how can you repent of suicide? It is too late after you died. But this betrays an idea that each time you sin you temporarily lose your salvation before you go back to God and ask for his forgiveness. What if you sin and don’t realize it? What if you sin, and then have a sudden heart attack before you have a chance to say sorry? As important as ongoing repentance is to the Christian, we cannot make salvation dependent on it.

When we are thinking about the loss of a loved one to suicide, the act itself is not what determines whether the person is in heaven. The question is simply this: Did the person truly believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and had they made him their Lord to worship and follow? It is in the fruit of the whole life, not a single act that we can take comfort. (See What is a Christian?) Of course, we do not know the fate of anyone who has died for sure.  God is the only just judge. But, it is not possible to lose your salvation.

Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide and worries about their eternal state should take comfort in Romans 8, possibly the most robust place for us to go to rest when we are faced with the worst storms this world can throw at us.  It begins “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Our confidence comes then not from our sinlessness, but from being IN CHRIST. What a security this gives us! What surety of our salvation, for if we are hidden “in Christ” nothing can snatch us away from him!

As Paul concludes,

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

. . .  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This passage is very clear, if we are truly in Christ, nothing, not even death itself can separate us from him. It doesn’t say, nothing, except suicide.

Of course, for a Christian to commit suicide is a sin. Nobody should feel they can plan such an act in the cold light of day and presume upon God’s grace. But most suicides don’t happen that way,  in any case. As mental illness gets worse, and the torment increases, suicidal impulses are part of the illness itself. A Christian will resist such impulses more strongly than someone who believes death at your own hand is sometimes an honorable thing. But, the impulses to kill yourself can get so strong it is simply impossible to fight them.

Suicide should be understood as part of an illness that afflicts. There comes a point where the patient has diminished responsibility for their actions. Surely God understands that.  We as the friends and family of such an afflicted individual must show them compassion, understanding, a safe place to speak about the battle they face. And, yes, we must at times be ready to act decisively to ensure that the person has the opportunity to recover from the illness that is seeking to destroy them.  Suicide prevention necessitates treatment against people’s will when that will is compromised by sickness.

One of the tragedies for those left behind by suicide is that they will run through in their minds what could have been done differently that might have saved their loved one.  The truth is, not every suicide can be prevented. But we do all share a responsibility to create a caring, accepting, environment in which suicidal thoughts are not the ultimate taboo, and suicide itself is not viewed as the unforgivable sin, and yet we must fight against suicide with all our might as the terrible waste of potential that it is.

 

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he seves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso.

Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway.

Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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  • Susan Gerard

    Good post! I hope it can provide comfort to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.

  • Steven Carr

    The truth is, not every suicide can be prevented.’

    With God, all things are possible.

    • Frank Elliott

      I didn’t know your god was magical as well as omnipotent.

      • Steven Carr

        I stand corrected.

        Not everything is possible for God.

      • Guest

        What kind of heartless, rude comment was that?

  • tedseeber

    We can hold out the holy hope that Hell is Empty. I pray for my cousin, an atheist, materialist, and naturist who committed suicide at age 21.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      We never know what goes on between God and individuals in such a situation. But we can hold on to the fact that God is both just and merciful. I think there will be some surprises on the Final Day. I don’t believe that Jesus thought hell would be empty, however.

  • PeteJanssen

    I wouldn’t post this if I didn’t think it would benefit anyone. If you are interested in what happens post suicide then you should check out the blog http://www.channelingerik.com . Read the back story first before you make any judgments about the material contained in the blog. I hope it helps even just one of you.

  • http://www.thinkpoint.wordpress.com/ SC

    Thank you for offering insight on this important issue. My first funeral to conduct as a young pastor was for the former pastor’s son who had taken his life. I used the text you refer to from Romans 8. If interested in the story: http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/when-a-pastors-son-takes-his-life/

  • DudeFaceOfAmerica

    Yes, suicide is a sin, but so is rejecting Christ (a.k.a. failing to persevere if a Hebrews 6 “Christian”). The bottom line is that suicide is not perseverance and the promise of salvation comes with the condition of perseverance, not as a means but as a proof of genuine faith. I don’t see how suicide is persevering in the faith.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Suicide is usually an impulsive desperate act in response to great pain, and impulses created by a real physical illness. Just like the people who jumped out of the World Trade Center rather than burn to death. I don’t believe any single act determines our eternal fate.

      • DudeFaceOfAmerica

        I agree, and I agree with Denise below. I’m not implying that anything OTHER than faith in Christ is needed for salvation, but most of the NT is dedicated to helping you know if you have TRUE, saving faith. Jumping from the WTC is completely different than giving up on your family in despair and selfishness. The latter act is not done from someone with saving, trusting faith.

        • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

          Most suicides are impulsive acts and not carefully thought through. It’s akin to the people who jumped out of the twin towers to escape the burning. I don’t think we can be that simplistic.

      • SelmaLady

        Yes. It is exactly that. I am planning on ending my life soon because of a rare brain medication injury that has left me unable to experience myself or anything or anyone around me. It has also affected my brain visual perception so that the world appears half the size it is, the ground is so close, the walls, the trees, everything is as though is it twice as close. And this is continuing to worsen. I can’t live in this brain. It is horror. And I have told my husband it as though I am being burned alive with no other way to escape except by ending my life in this brain. Thank you so very much for understanding this. I have printed out your article here so my family can perhaps understand that I truly have no way to stay. I am a born again Christian and know that all my sin has been nailed to the Cross. I am grieved so deeply that I have to do this to my family and most of all to grieve God in this way. I have no choice.

        • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

          You don’t understand this article if you think it is intended to encourage suicide! Please reach out for help from doctors or a suicide helpline (see the post for information). Medication may well help you. Antidepressants often change the way we perceive the world. You will leave so many people behind upset and distraught. You will be missed. And you will not see what the grace of God has for you in the rest of your live. There is happiness around you to be reached out and grasped even in your terrible situation. Please do not give up hope!

    • Denise Meine-Graham

      So belief in Christ’s death and resurrection isn’t enough? We need to accept His payment for sin AND persevere before we have eternal security? Hmmm… that doesn’t quite align with what I understand the Bible says. It’s Christ’s blood alone, my friend. Do I think we “SHOULD” persevere? Of course! But it is not Christ’s blood plus anything.

      • misdirection

        Salvation plus work is what taught by most churches, notably SDA, and that’s wrong. We just need to believe that Jesus Christ rose on that day and his blood is sufficient to cover for all of our SINS. They key word is “ALL” not just conditional requirement. All it takes is to BELIEVE according to John 3:16. Yet some of you are making a condition out of it. For instance, “salvation is freely given but according to Ellen White, you need to keep the Sabbath” This is completely misguided.

        • Passione

          Yes believe, but how do you know you have truly believed that message ?
          there needs to be fruit in your life. Its not just believing , you have to live your life the way the word of God says we are to live if we truly do believe. Jesus say’s that tree’s that do not produce fruit will be thrown into the lake of fire.

          • misdirection

            That’s salvation plus work; sounds like we have to earn something to get to heaven. No this is lordship salvation/conditional security that’s nowhere found in the bible. Firstly, no believer will lose salvation:

            John 11:25-26

            King James Version (KJV)

            25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

            26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

            Never MEANS never. Period.

            Do unbelievers bear any fruit? NO! Believers do. There are only two major distinctive group: believers vs. unbelievers.

            Watch this video from Charles Stanley, he has a VERY good point:

            Ask Dr. Stanley – Can a saved PERSON BACKSLIDE and be LOST?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AVkxThGX14

            Ephesians 2:8-9

            King James Version (KJV)

            For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

            Not of works, lest any man should boast.

            It’s not something we have to earn, it’s a gift from God. If we receive gift from God and we have to work out way to heaven, then it negates free gift from God.

            According to Dr. Stanley: can a believer backslide, live in sin, and still be saved? YES! But it’s a VERY expensive trip! This carnal believer will not experience any fellowship with God; prayers go unanswered; and his presence will drift away, but not completely.

            Now consider these two powerful verses that advocate Eternal Security:

            John 14:16
            King James Version (KJV)

            And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

            The Holy Spirit indwells within the believer forever: carnal or not. If a believer sin, does the Holy Spirit leave the believer? NO! It quenches the Holy Spirit, but it won’t depart the believer. Is that simple.

            Here’s another one:

            John 6:37

            King James Version (KJV)

            All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

            Christ will not cast any believers out of heaven, only unbelievers. Big difference.

            Consider this another verse, very powerful: a man was entangled with fornication in church. Obviously he’s a believer and was entangled in sin:

            1 Corinthians 5:1-5

            King James Version (KJV)

            It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

            And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

            For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

            In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

            To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

            Clearly: this man is saved. I repeat 5:5

            “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

            He’s saved. This completely blows your notion that believer must stop sinning to be saved. Lastly:

            1 John 1:8-10

            King James Version (KJV)

            If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

            If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

            If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

            If we can stop sinning then Christ died on the cross needlessly:

            Galatians 2:21

            King James Version (KJV)

            I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

            So the question is: can a believer backslide, go back to sinful lifestyle, and be saved? YES! But he/she won’t have any rewards in heaven. This such verse support this notion of Eternity Security:

            1 Corinthians 3:15
            King James Version (KJV)

            If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

            God bless you, and I hope you repent (change of mind, belief, not forsaking sin).

          • mudslinger777

            What about the 2 thieves on the cross with Jesus???
            The one whom Christ promised that he would be with him in heaven from what I can tell, didn’t have time to have any fruits did he? He wasn’t even baptized or circumcised! He was saved on the spot for believing.

  • AtTheInfiniteJoel

    I appreciate your words. I recently blogged about this, wanted to share my thoughts as well: http://streamsrd.tumblr.com/post/47556350037/what-happens-when-a-christian-commits-suicide

  • stimpy77

    Christ will be the judge, all of this is of course speculation since we don’t know. But the position expressed in this article is not unlike my own beliefs.
    I also want to point out, though, that God the Father is that person of God who is already eternal, which I perceive to mean that time itself is foreign to him–it is His own invention. Therefore, the whole argument about “before” vs “after” the death (“unable to repent AFTER the suicide”) becomes completely moot, because sequence is a timeline-oriented concept which may or may not be disregarded by an eternal God. Rejection comes to those whom Jesus would say “I never knew you”, not “you abandoned My love”. On the other hand, Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

  • Monica S

    https://www.facebook.com/PatheosEvangelical/posts/530004070370065?comment_id=5547707&reply_comment_id=5547860&offset=0&total_comments=4&ref=notif&notif_t=share_reply

    I responded to the above-referenced Patheos Facebook link for this article. I commented in response to the first Facebook commenter who stated unequivocally that if someone commits suicide “He’s not a Christian at all.” For the sake of brevity, I will refer you to that comment, but I will summarize it by saying that I shared what brought me up from the depths of depression and thoughts of suicide. (Hint: it was not a spiritual intervention; it was medical.)

    I can say without a doubt that even in my darkest days, my faith in Christ did not end, and ironically that may be why leaving this world didn’t seem like such a bad option at the time.

    I invite you to visit my blog for a response to attacks on the Warren family when their son Matthew took his own life in April of this year. http://helptohopeblog.net/2013/04/07/to-walk-in-anothers-shoes/

    I also invite you to read through my blog as I chronicle what happened when my then-teenage daughter descended into suicidal depression. I hope to add understanding to the sometimes uncontrollable desire to die, and how it affects not only the one depressed but those who love her or him. http://helptohopeblog.net/ Aspects of our story were also shared in Amy Simpson’s new book, Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and The Church’s Mission.

    Though my blog may not portray a specifically Christian voice (I have chosen this in order to engage a non-Christian audience as well), it is still the story of a journey of faith mixed with despair. This is, in my experience, as honest as faith can get: learning to live in the tension of a broken, dying world and all of its consequences in my life, while still holding fast to my God who loves me even when I am unable to lift my head, form a thought, or want to continue to live.
    I have learned to truly appreciate the words recorded in the books of Ecclesiastes and Job, which reassured me that I was not the first person who loved God but was also taken to the depths of despair.

    I am continually saddened by those who are quick to pronounce judgment on we who suffer with mental health issues, or life circumstances, that drive us to dark places that feel hopeless when they have not experienced it for themselves. As an analogy, I cannot presume to tell a cancer patient how to proceed with their care, because I have not walked in their shoes.

    But somehow, even though God meets us in our darkest hours of desperation and longs to be gracious to us, we are often greeted with condemnation by those with whom we worship weekly. We are told, even in roundabout ways, that we better shape up and stop making God mad at us, instead of being reminded that we are loved and redeemed and unable to be separated from God’s love for us.

    • mslopez

      I have gone through this judgment and its been painful. Im in pain now & it seems unbearable. Im surprised im still here at this second…

  • rvs

    Great point here. The “perseverance” talk sounds like mumbo-jumbo to me in real cases of suicide, as opposed to hypothetical-speculative cases (no offense, dudefacesofamerica). I appreciate the wisdom of stimpy and SC below.

  • Mandie Nelson

    Clearly many people weighing in here do not understand mental illness. Often, a person completing suicide is not in his “right mind,” for various reasons, many times because of an imbalance in brain chemistry. The act of suicide, then, is an outward symptom of an internal condition. It is not a character flaw, but a diagnosable condition, much like diabetes. We don’t go around flogging people for not fighting the fight to the natural end of their lives because of an imbalanced pancreas!

    I agree with the author’s premise that His grace is enough to cover ALL our sins: past, present, and future. God in His eternality has mercy on us while we were YET sinners, and He died for us anyway. He is a God of compassion. The Bible is clear in Romans 8 that no one in Christ can be separated from His love. Christians are not excluded from the ravages of mental illness, which is statistically most often prevalent in a completed suicide. Thank you for giving loved ones hope, who have lost someone to this terrible illness, especially for those who are in Christ!!

  • Mandy Johnson

    Many thanks for your comments. As you know, Adrian is taking a summer break and will be back in September.

  • promise

    U said, Nobody should feel they can plan such an act in the cold light of day and presume upon God’s grace. But David planed to murder his friend so he can take his wife, lets pretend David died a moment after he had his friend murdered would David be cast into hell?

  • promise

    U said, Nobody should feel they can plan such an act in the cold light of day and presume upon God’s grace. But David planed to murder his friend so he can take his wife, lets pretend David died a moment after his friend did, because David planned it would David had gone to hell?

  • Guest

    I went to receive counseling from a pastor after I confessed that I wanted to take my life. I explained to him that I had depression and have had it all my life. I also have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder but kept that information to myself. I explained how I tried to serve God in the past but it was difficult because of the constant mood swings, emotional trauma. He simply looked at me with a smile on his face and said…”and you have no faith.” It broke my heart, God knows I hate that my faith is weak so when he said that it was a slap in the face, He downplayed the importance of seeking secular therapy, considering it all to be sinful.
    Oh but it gets worse ppl because in the next sermon at church he basically used almost everything I said to him in confidence as an example of not “growing in faith.” He said to the congregation, if you continue to walk in grow in the lord you wouldn’t feel the need to kill yourself. As a result I ended up feeling deeply confused, condemned, guilty, lazy, faithless and stupid. Part of me thinks what he says is wrong but another part of me wonders, maybe he is right, and maybe God simply used him to tell me this, but it completely contrasts to the time I felt God encouraged me to seek medical help for my illness. I’m just so confused, I worry that even typing this is some sort of sin but personally I think it needs to be known.

    • Guest

      ps: as a matter of fact I feel like the last two sermons have been about me. but not in a wow this pastor doesn’t even know my problems but hes speaking about my situation way… but in a wow this pastor is using my sins that confessed to him in private as an example and format for his sermons. It’s like I’m his muse.

      • Rick Parrish

        Hi! Keep your chin up and continue to pray and seek The Lord for guidance in your life. I’ve been in ministry most of my adult life up until 7 years ago. I was diagnosed with bi polar 1, borderline personality disorder and paranoia. I’ve wanted to commit suicide on many occasions, my mental disorders have cost me my ministry, my livelihood, my marriage, ect…yet still, I rest in the fact that I believe that Jesus died for my sins! I’ve confessed him as lord and chose to rest in that fact. Don’t worry so much about learning more about God to overcome your disorder, instead, try resting in the fact that he loves you and his blood has washed away your sins. I was taught/trained for ministry by Dr Mark Rutland, former president of ORU, one thing I learned for sure. Gods grace and mercy endures forever. Prayers upon you my friend.

        • Julie Steadman

          ….you show incredible faith and trust in God to keep going.
          You may also find Graham Powell’s book ‘Christian Set yourself free’ helpful. He just suffered from excessive fears but was in the front line of Christian ministry. At the point he was about to throw in the towel he came to believe that he needed some deliverance. The book is how he set himself free over a two year period. He was also involved in Ellel Grange ministries in the UK in the early days who minister to people personally along these lines.

    • Stephen Quirke

      Take heart – please – take heart
      I think you were treated in an unkind and uncaring way
      your confusion (and perhaps your shame) paraded before your congregation
      This should not have happened
      Perhaps your faith is indeed weak
      But like that psalmist who wrote psalm 88 I hear you reaching out to God
      And you are reaching out, through this note to his people
      And you are reaching out to those He has raised up who are best trained to help you
      And you have turned back from this final act
      I love the courage you have shown here
      But also…
      Part of living with this darkness, is learning to forgive those who do not experience this terrible urge and choose therefore to treat those who do, with contempt.
      The love you show these people may yet make all the difference

    • Julie Steadman

      …gosh I really feel for what you have gone through here. It has to be a lack of love in your life (probably when you were growing up) that brought you to this place in the first place.

      I am in my first term, studying to become a Christian counsellor. One of the things we are taught is that we should not ignore our emotions as negative ones are red lights on the dash board.

      We then need to look at the underlying reasons for these emotions. It would appear that nearly everything can be traced back to us not feeling loved and valued. If this has happened in childhood it then becomes very difficult to trust others including God.

      Our goals (often unknowingly) are usually set towards us getting these areas fullfilled. As these goals become blocked it leads to the negative emotions.

      There is nothing wrong with you going to secular counselling, the basis of their models is the same as the Christian one that we need to feel and know that we are loved and valued.

      A secular counsellor can help you up to a point and is a good place to start. I had a friend who could not go to a Christian counsellor to begin with because she had had an abusive father who used the bible (out of context) to be cruel to her. She needed to see a secular counsellor first. She is now training to be a counsellor herself.

      Faith is just trusting in God’s love and goodness towards us. It is actually meeting with the reality of God’s love for ourselves that fullfills our need to feel loved and valued. I’m still working on how you get this from your head to your heart myself.

      I think one place to start is meditating on the scriptures that talk about God’s love for you. You may find Christ Empowered Living by Selwyn Hughes (basis of the christian counselling model) helpful.

      I personally also believe that there can be spirits behind even simple things like excessive fear. Graham Powell’s book – Christian set yourself free is helpful in this regard and ‘Ellel Grange’ ministers along these lines as does a lady called Lin Button (www.healingprayerschool.org). Not sure where you are based in the country. She is running a 3 Saturday school starting 1st Feb on rejection and fear.
      And I just want to say You do Have Faith. You are still hanging in there despite all you are going through and despite how you have been treated by your pastor. His response probably came out of his own inadequacy himself and not knowing how to help you !! And so he effectively put the blame back on you.
      Hang in there. Jesus will get you through this, he knows and cares about what you are going through and he will bring people along to help you.

  • Darin Woods

    I am suffering with this illness. About 4 years ago a close family memebr of mines committed sucide and it has greatly impacted me every since. Recently I have been in a depressave state twice and im wondering will it every end. I pray often and ask God to change my mindset but day by day my walk in life gets harder and harder. Today is a bad day and I dont want to act on impulse. Im asking for prayers because I dont know what else to do. I cant change myself so Im asking god to do the impossible. Fix me so I wont commit this sin of suicide.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Praying for you right now. But please do yourself a favor and reach out for Medical help and the national suicide prevention helpline. There is always hope. But sometimes we need professional help to see it.

    • Tanya

      Hi Darin, I lost my only son to suicide Jan.29th 2012 he was 17 and also my best friend. I know how you feel and understand your thoughts. The brokenness; the grief will always be there. But, we can overcome the despair of a deep depression or as I call it “a dark pit”. The answer is Jesus he is the way to life thru him I have HOPE and TRUST before I just had hope and still depressed until I got back up and fought the good fight and found TRUST! in Christ. If you remain in Christ and bear fruit (wisdom in his word and share with others who are lost) he will always remain in you (John 15:14). Jesus is for you and the enemy is against you (romans 8:31). The enemy is here to steal, kill and destroy (john10:10) us and you as he destroyed our loved ones to suicide. You must have Jesus wholly in your life NOT partially, we are too fragile and broken and this opens the door for the enemy but for Jesus as well to SEEK, FIND, BELIEVE and TRUST ALWAYS!! I have been so blessed with his GRACE and STRENGTH from his word, the comfortness and love is so unexplainable that it almost makes you feel guilty and that you should be depressed but don’t forget thats the
      enemy who’s against you. Our loved ones wants us to be in Christ as they are for the sake of others and
      yourself for Gods glory and grace. Accept Jesus in your life wholly and TRUST. I encourage you to read the book and workbook “The Battlefield of the Mind” from Joyce Meyer and daily devotional book “Jesus Calling” and get involved in a bible study once a week, build your strength and wisdom as well as TRUST and have HOPE in Christ. God bless and you are in my prayers. I am Christian who is broken and needs Jesus in my everyday life. Please reach out if you need me or let me know how you are.

  • http://www.whatsbestnext.com/ Matt Perman

    Adrian: People would often write in about this when I worked at Desiring God. Here are three sermons by John Piper we would often refer people to, which do a great job of making lots of the same points you make above: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/topic-index/suicide

  • http://www.whatsbestnext.com/ Matt Perman

    The following point could easily be misunderstood or said to be utilizing too much business thinking in the church. However, I think it has some important insight.

    I was reading somewhere a few years ago about the difficulty of measuring whether churches are really being effective in their mission. (I’ll set aside here the question of whether that places too much importance on measurement, and just say that regardless of whether measurement can be given too much prominence, it does matter — even for churches.)

    The article first made the point that the best measurements are sometimes things that seem far removed from the actual activities we are undertaking. They show the impact of those activities through their impact down the road, through their non-linear impact on lots of things over time.

    The article then went on to suggest that the correlation they had found is that when churches are being effective in their mission (proclaiming the gospel, truly pointing people to God rather than just religion, and creating a community of acceptance and grace as well as truth), the suicide rate drops in the community.

    I thought that was profound. It is easy (perhaps too easy) to measure a church’s success by attendance. But how do we know that those people are truly being built up in the faith? Perhaps, in part, it is through the impact that we see happening through our efforts far beyond the things that are in our immediate control. These things can’t be “gamed.”

    What if we were willing to take a hard look at our ministry efforts and assess them in terms of how they affect things that truly demonstrate what’s at stake? Certainly a church of 100 people in a city of 100,000 would never be able to measure whether their mission is having an impact on something like the suicide rate in that city. But what if we at least had these sorts of long-term, highly significant, real needs in view as part of the long-term fruit God aims to bring about through our ministry efforts?

  • Stephen Quirke

    Thank you for this Karen – your comments on a desperate need for something different are inspiring to me

  • http://1t412.wordpress.com/ Christina

    “But we do all share a responsibility to create a caring, accepting, environment in which suicidal thoughts are not the ultimate taboo”

    This is true for suicide and much more. If the church is to be a community where people come as they are, receive grace, and pursue holiness together, we need to learn to be unshockable. No sin can be seen as so shameful that temptation shouldn’t be admitted to, because sin thrives in darkness and secrecy. Although, with that being said, I’d certainly qualify the description of suicide as sin (as you did in your article). Sin requires volition, and in many cases the ability of a suicidal person to make rational decisions is compromised due to factors not entirely within their control..

  • D.J. Heath

    Just reading the comments to this much needed article exposes the taboo and ignorance of those who think they “know.” It is people like these who continue the stigma attached to suicide…that makes the loss even greater for those of us left behind in our bewilderment. I agree with EVERYTHING you have knowledgeably stated. I lost my Christian son nearly five years ago to suicide. I knew he was a Christian, although throughout his life he suffered ..and I mean suffered….with depression. The last straw was his failing marriage and loss of his job. There are so many things to factor in to a suicidal death. I would hate to have to listen to anyone who thinks like a few of your readers. They clearly do not understand but are resolute in their judgment and ill-informed minds.

    What bothers me the most is that I did fit into that category of “suicides go to hell” only because I think religion put that thought in me as a young believer. Of course, when facing my own son’s suicide caused by mental illness and my father’s mental illness (he attempted suicide before I was born) I had to look deeply into the spiritual and the science of it all. I cannot tell you how awful this pain is of thinking that your beloved son may have gone to hell. I know his heart…I knew his life…I knew him very well but not enough to have saved him, It was a dark impulse that took his life…it was a weakness he struggled with for most of his life. Since God is a god of grace, mercy, and love…then I have no doubt that my son is with Him now. I would like to put this article/link on my blog which is dedicated to understanding both suicide and God’s love. My blog is
    lensgirl53.wordpress.com . Please keep me in your prayers. My heart goes out to all who are in depression and are being judged by the church instead of being helped.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Sorry I missed this comment for two months. I have said a prayer for you and can only begin to imagine a mothers pain in such a situation. May God be close to you and comfort you and help you to be a help to others.

      • D.J. Heath

        Thank you for your prayer. It comes today when I am in a terrible place of guilt, regrets, and anger, and the sickening feeling of grief….this week of the 5th anniversary of my son’s death.

  • Jamie

    Thank you so much for this post. I lost my 14 year old son last week to suicide and me and my family are struggling mightily. It is so hard for me to wrap my head around why this happened and how. The pain he must have been struggling with is too much for me to bare. The signs that he was thinking about this just were not there but the guilt is still overwhelming me. The only thing that keeps us hanging on is knowing that God has him now and there is no more pain.

  • Paige

    My father was heading up the men’s retreat at a large church in Dallas, TX. He was a music worship leader, Bible scholar, and loving family man with 6 young children and a beautiful wife. One night after a family dinner, he went off to a church meeting and never returned home. It wasn’t until the next morning that I learned my father had committed suicide at 38 years old. I was 11. This year I will be 38 and a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t somehow felt the effects of his choice. I do believe he is in Heaven. Not because of who he was but because of who Jesus is. Praise God for that!

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Only God knows what torments your father was going through. And only Jesus can cover all our sins, and mistakes. I pray that you will know peace, and be able to enjoy decades more of following Jesus, and that the negative effects of this decision will be washed away. It may help to realise that this probably wasn’t a rational decision, but more a desperate attempt to get away from a pain he felt he couldn’t share. We must create environments that are full of integrity where people do not have to hide anguish. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

    Again, it is not as simple as that Josue. The act of suicide is not usually a conscious, deliberate, reasoned, thought out action. It is an impulsive and desperate attempt to get away from pain. As such, I do believe in the mercy of God.

  • mslopez

    All I know is that this emotional pain is excruciating. I’m tired of hurting. It feels unbearable. For so long I’ve been pleading with God to take me to him! I do research on things like this because i want to know if I can still go to heaven . There’s talk about the people left behind in pain & quite honestly i get angry because it seems the people that hurt you still get all the attention. My husband knows of my desires and the whys…I’ve explained it thoroughly but he doesn’t care about my life..in fact, he has left me. Im apparently defective.

    • Guest

      Defective? Hardly I’m sure.
      I’m 50, single, never married and probably never will.
      God loves the least of us the most!
      And I love you.

  • Guest

    What’s with the pornigraphic ads on this site?

  • Guest

    I consider myself a Christian. I believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ and I believe He died for my sins. I’ve admitted that I’m a sinner and that I’m lost without Christ and have asked him into my heart and to save me. But I hate this world, I hate the greed, the Godless self absorbed animals all about me that lie, cheat and steal. It’s a cesspool and I’m tired of it all. I want to leave here so bad and be free of it all. I know that God doesn’t want me to take my own life but I think in the end that he would forgive me. After all, it’s a sin and we are forgiven of past, present and future sins. Jesus died for our sins and he only had to die once.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Don’t listen to the lies that would seek to make you think that this life is not worth living. The Christian has a vital role to play in helping make this world a more bearable place, and in saving others from the fire. If you are feeling suicidal, then I advise also seeking professional help

  • Guest

    Many people are quick to say that a believer who takes their own life in the heat of the moment can still go to heaven. I agree with this, but how would you feel about this same believer murdering another person, this being the last action before the
    believer dies. Does this believer go to heaven? Both are taking something that
    was made in the image of God and destroying it. We must not grow sympathetic to
    certain types of murder (i.e. suicide/abortion) as compared to other types such
    as homicide.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      The key thing here is that the vast majority of suicides are not conducted when someone is in their right mind. In other words they have impaired judgement because of their mental illness.

  • Melissa Hu

    I once stood at the ledge of a building and thought very long about my life. In the end, fear of hell pulled me back. I wish I could say it had been God’s love that saved me but while that is true, it was more because of the fact that I was afraid of being stuck in purgatory forever. These thoughts have returned ever since with a vengeance, and just yesterday night I have been contemplating downing the pills I have on hand. There is a lot going on right now and I wish I could be happy and secure in the knowledge of God’s grace, but I just can’t. I feel like that’s a character flaw and I’m somehow not passing this “faith test” set out for us Christians as a trial. Lord help me regain that childlike trust I once had in You because I am so scared I won’t listen to you again the next time.

    • Adrian

      Melissa. Hold Strong in Faith and Trust in God. This too shall pass! You may be able to touch other’s lives. I too wanted to kill myself and only by the Grace of God, refrained from doing so. Be strong in Faith and know that the pain will not last forever.

      • Melissa Hu

        Thank you for your kind words. It’s strange how I love God yet get so tired of the Christian life at the same time. I pray that I don’t ever wander away from the true path. God bless you for writing this article!

  • cboudwin

    My wife died from cancer in my arms 23 days ago. Her kids, who I raised, are going to leave me to go back to their useless father. It’s like they were waiting out their mother so they could get away. 8 years I stood by their mother through some of the most horrible times you can imagine, up to and including her death on April 17. She specifically wanted them to stay with me, it’s in her will, but now that she’s gone, they are leaving me, against her wishes, and throwing all the effort and attention I gave them over the last 8 years down the drain. In addition, I’m in a house I can’t afford now, in a state that’s not my home (we moved here to be close to the hospital that was treating my wife) I can’t afford to move, and yet i can’t afford to stay here. I have no close family anywhere near me. All I want to do is sleep. Once the school year is over and the kids are gone I will be utterly alone. You must understand how much I loved my wife. My best friend, my only ally, my “pretty Mama.” She’s gone now, and everything that was a part of her is being ripped from me, one piece at a time. I will find myself alone, as I was 15 years ago, with no one to take care of save myself, and no one to come home to. I want to sleep.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      It sounds like you have a terrible situation right now. It has been a difficult time for you. But no matter how bad things get, there is always hope of a solution. Regarding the children, there may be something that can be done on the legal side, or via social workers, have you explored that? I am sure that you should also be able to find a way out of your financial situation. It sounds like you need help, support, and advice. You may well find a local church pastor who can encourage you. But you also are beginning to sound desperate, and so I encourage you to reach out to professionals for help, either by calling a helpline as discussed above, or speaking to your doctor. There may be more hardships to come, and somethings things get worse before they get better, but don’t allow your hope to be destroyed.

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  • Yorkie Lover

    I’ve spent 50 years on this planet, and it has been nothing but loneliness, pain, rejection, fear, trying and failing to find love, struggling to make a life for myself, and ending up beating my head against the same brick wall. I’m tired. I have prayed and prayed, asking God to help me change and trying to trust Him, but nothing changes. I struggle with the same addictions and go around the same mountain over and over again. I can’t do this anymore. My life doesn’t work, and I’m weary with trying to deal with it. I’ve tried counseling, anti-depressants, journaling, books, exercise, meditation – everything I can think of, and nothing works. I can pull myself out of this grave for awhile, but soon I’m back in the deep, dark hole of pain. I have no spouse or children, a few acquaintances but no real friends, a dead-end job I hate so nobody would miss me there. I don’t want to go to hell, but I’ve been living in hell for nearly 50 years. I have a plan to end it all, I just have to work out the details. I pray God will forgive me.

    • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

      Please don’t allow your hope to be extinguished. Will you reach out to professionals for help? Are you part of a church family? It seems to me that a joined up way of dealing with pain has the best results. Please don’t suffer on your own.

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