Suicide and Religious Faith

Suicide and Religious Faith May 13, 2013

Today I share the second question in our broad conversation about faith and mental illness. Last weeks question is still open for you to post your replies.

Today’s question is very sensitive and requires great tact. But it is not possible to speak about mental illness without speaking about this.

Please see my previous post for more information about how we can be a part of reducing the risk of suicide

Please post links to your answers to this question in the comment section below and link back to this post to make it easier for us to track your replies which I will link to on this post.

Research suggests that religious faith protects against suicide. Why do you think that is in light of how your community responds to suicide? How can we tread the fine line of discouraging suicide while not making the grief of family members worse?

I share below some posts about suicide, some of which predate this question but address it.

From Patheos

My own reply to this question begins,

“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.”

George Handley shares lessons he has learnt reflecting on the suicide of a family member:

Sometimes things happen that contradict logic, defy expectations, and shake us to our roots. We might wish to cry out loud, “What is this for!? How can this be providential?!” This happens to Christ, so I am not sure why I should expect it won’t happen to me. He felt abandoned, he pled for release from what he knew he had to do, but his willingness to submit remained unbent all the way through.

From around the web

Currents website, someone writes,

Once someone accepts the free gift of salvation, the do not need to keep getting forgiveness. It isn’t based on a per sin transaction. They don’t sin, repent, get forgiven. They are forgiven. Period.

Emma writes of her own experiences with suicidal thoughts and asks, “Did my faith protect me from suicide attempts, and therefore the threat of completing suicide? Partly.” also has an article on suicide from a Christian perspective.

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  • I posted about suicide, my experiences of being suicidal, and whether we should talk about suicide openly, and say that God does not condemn those who are so distressed that they kill themselves in my blog post here:

  • Frank Friedl

    On this one, my post talked about suicide in relation to depression and PTSD. Our response as a church needs to be to build deep relationships with one another; to not settle for “fine” when answering how you’re doing and to get invovled when we see someone struggling.

  • Nate Smith

    I continued to struggle with suicide for close to a decade and seven of those years as a Christian. My dad was a pastor and attempted suicide once and a number of spoiled plans. Being someone who grew up within a church that pronounced that those who commit suicide go to hell was very difficult to grapple with.

    • Thanks for sharing Nate. What changed things for you so that your struggle improved?

      • Nate Smith

        a huge part was a different viewpoint on temptation and not to feel guilty about it. finding out who i am in Christ and actually believing in it. like making it a part of my daily matra if you will. and just knowing that even though i feel like to die is gain. that Christ wants me here to spread His love. That should be enough. Off medication for close to two years. Don’t regret it.