The COVID pandemic has also spawned what has been termed a “pandemic of despair.” One article says, “Suicide rates are higher today than at any other time since the Great Depression.” Could the loss of social interaction brought on by quarantines and lockdowns have created a deadly side effect?
There are some who say anyone who takes their own life is damned, but I am reticent to agree. I think someone in the grip of profound pain, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual, may be deceived and driven into thinking death is the only option. But I also recognize suicide is not an act of faith and “whatever is not from faith is sin,” Romans 14:23.
The subject of suicide is not addressed directly in the Bible. The Scriptures record seven suicides, but little is said about them apart from a brief description of each.
Some scholars claim suicide is self-murder, but that has always seemed to be a strained application of the Sixth Commandment to me. To the degree one’s rationality is unimpaired and an act of the will, suicide can never be said to be an act of faith and is in that respect a sin.
To me the greater question would be, is suicide forgivable? Some argue since one cannot ask forgiveness after killing oneself it is damnable. That position seems just as strained to me as the idea of self-murder, that our forgiveness is more dependent on our request for it than on God’s mercy.
I think the grace of God extends to the one whose extreme circumstances may render him confused and irrational enough to do something in a thoughtless moment of desperation he would not normally consider. Ergo, I do not believe hell is the default destination, but neither can we say heaven is assured to the one who takes his own life, a faithless act. So where does that leave us?
After God reveals to Abraham, He is about to investigate the outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham, aware his nephew Lot and his family reside in Sodom, asks God, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Genesis 18:23. Abraham employing a rhetorical question assures God he knows He will do what is right, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Genesis 18:25.
While this narrative is not about suicide, it does reveal the just nature of a Holy God who will in every situation do what is right by every person. Since the Scriptures do not condone suicide, neither should we, lest we encourage it, nor should we condemn what the Scriptures do not condemn lest we rob others of their hope in a merciful God.
God knows what is in the heart and mind of the one who takes his own life, and He is a benevolent God. It is the best that I can say with a clear conscience, but it is the best anyone could hope for.