The article below is not medical advice. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately. Free help is available to all people.
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Suicide is a sad and tragic event. It ends a life prematurely and causes family and friends to struggle with despair, loneliness, and regret. There are people in the Bible that express the desire to die prematurely and a few have followed through and killed themselves. So how does God view suicide?
Suicide is sinful because it violates the 6th commandment, in which God tells people “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Suicide is self-murder. It is rebellion against God’s will, sovereignty, and the value of human life.
Why is suicide sinful according to the Bible? Is suicide sinful if mental illness is involved? Does God forgive people who commit suicide? Who in the Bible committed suicide? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
See What Is the Sin That Leads to Death? to learn more about Jesus’ teaching.
Why is suicide sinful according to the Bible?
According to the Bible, a “sin” is any act, speech, motive, desire, or anything else that doesn’t conform to God’s nature and moral standards.
How does suicide violate God’s will? Suicide is a transgression against God’s sovereignty; that is, his supreme rule over all creation (e.g. Isa. 46:9-10). God, as the sovereign Maker of all things, creates life and takes it away.
Murdering another person is a transgression against God’s plan for that person’s life. Murdering oneself is a transgression against God’s plan for one’s own life.
Is suicide sinful if mental illness is involved? Mental illnesses, especially depression, are significant factors in suicides. Treating depression, with the help of a doctor, alleviates suicidal thoughts in many people.
Nevertheless, suicide is always wrong. The proper way to help someone in need is with compassion, empathy, love, prayer, and getting them connected to professional help like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Is God angry with people who commit suicide? God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod. 34:6, Psalm 86:15).
Jesus is compassionate toward people such as when “he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Like the woman caught in adultery, Jesus loves sinners and tells them to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
Does God forgive people who commit suicide? Some people make the argument that people who commit suicide can’t be forgiven as there is no opportunity for them to confess their sin because they are dead.
Others respond that the forgiveness of sin is based on the cross of Jesus Christ alone, not on a final confession uttered before death. The Bible doesn’t teach that people who commit suicide can’t be forgiven.
How does God forgive people? God offers forgiveness for sin to all people through Christ. God will forgive anyone, no matter their past deeds, thoughts, or words. The penalty for sin is death (Rom 6:23), which is why Christ died on a cross for sinners — to pay the penalty for sinners.
When people put their trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin and turn away from their Godless way of life and its behaviors, they have peace with God (Rom. 5:1) and go to heaven when they die (John 14:1-6).
“Suicide is a grave sin equivalent to murder (Exodus 20:13; 21:23), but it can be forgiven like any other sin. And Scripture says clearly that those redeemed by God have been forgiven for all their sins – past, present, and future (Colossians 2:13-14).” ~ John MacArthur
Can people who commit suicide still go to heaven? The Bible doesn’t teach that people who commit suicide inevitably go to hell as if it’s an unforgivable sin. Yet, God makes clear in Scripture that taking one’s own life is a transgression of his will. Mental illnesses, such as depression, a key factor in suicide, don’t reverse a person’s conversion to Jesus Christ.
Sam Storms writes, “Nowhere does the Bible say that suicide is an unforgiveable or unpardonable sin.”
See Did Jesus Sin? to learn more about the Bible’s teaching.
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Does the Bible contain stories about suicide?
Saul, Ahithophel, Zimri, and Judas each committed suicide. While the Bible records that they took their own lives, it doesn’t reflect or provide commentary on their actions.
Biblical authors make clear the character of tragic figures like Saul and Judas, but they don’t specifically comment on the sinfulness of their deaths or speculate on their eternal destination.
- Saul: “Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and run it through me, or these uncircumcised men will come and run me through and torture me!’ But his armor-bearer was terrified and refused to do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his own sword and died with him.” (1 Samuel 31:4-5)
- Ahithophel: “When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.” (2 Samuel 7:23)
- Zimri: “And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire and died.” (1 Kings 16:19)
- Judas: “And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:5)
See What Is the Sin of Sloth? to learn more about the Bible’s teaching.
Bible stories about people who want to die
Some of the Bible’s most well-known figures expressed a desire to die at some point in their lives. Some, like Paul and Simeon, looked forward to death in a holy and healthy way (Philippians 1:20-23; Luke 2:29), but others desired death when life was hard.
Which Bible characters expressed a desire to die? Moses, Elijah, Job, and Jonah all expressed a desire to die at different points in their lives, yet didn’t commit suicide.
Even some of the heroes of the Bible experience hardship in life because the world is fallen, making suffering a reality, even for God’s faithful followers.
- Moses: “If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness” (Num. 11:15)
- Elijah: “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4)
- Job: Read Job chapter 3. Example: “Why did I not perish at birth; why did I not die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11)
- Jonah: “When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:8)
Life is hard. The Bible doesn’t mask the fact that life is hard. Its teachings align with what all people experience — the world is fallen from grace and full of suffering and hardship. Christ offers himself to the weary and burdened.
“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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
See Is Manifestation Sinful? to learn more about the Bible’s teaching.
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