Is taking your own life a sin?
If a loved one has taken their own life, it is inevitable that we would agonise over whether we could have done more to show them how much they matter, or how we could have missed the signs of their suffering. Worse still, should they have been Christian, it is natural to wonder if they are with Jesus.
We ask this question because we know that taking someone’s life is wrong (Gen 9:6; Exod 20:13), even if that life is our own. Yet, we know of Christians, who, in desperation, ended their own lives — perhaps they felt worthless because their grades aren’t good enough; perhaps they were cruelly bullied into believing their lives weren’t worth anything; perhaps they struggled with debilitating mental illnesses that left them hopeless and in despair before deciding to end it all. We have to acknowledge the immense conflict they might have gone through, while not taking it as proper justification for the act of suicide.
But the question still haunts us: even under such desperate circumstances, if a Christian commits suicide, can they go to heaven?
Can sin be forgiven?
The Bible is very clear — when we rebel against God by saying that we are the ones in charge and don’t have to obey what God says, we are in sin. This is what breaks our relationship with God (Rom 3:23). Sin separates us from Him, and disqualifies us from being with Him forever.
However, the Bible doesn’t end with this message of doom and gloom! Instead, it tells us that Jesus offers us forgiveness, and it is through Jesus’ death on the cross that we can be reconciled with God (John 14:6). If we acknowledge our rebellion, turn away from it, and trust and follow Him, we will be with Him eternally where He is, whether in Heaven or on His restored earth (Rev 21).
Our eternity with Jesus does not depend on us deserving it through anything we could do (Eph 2:8–9). Rather, it depends on whether or not we have put our faith in Him!
Can the sin of suicide be forgiven?
When we wonder whether a Christian who committed suicide can go to heaven, we are asking whether the sin of suicide can be forgiven, so that the person can be with Jesus eternally.
No one, whether they lived out their lifespan or committed suicide, can earn their place with God. Faith in Jesus Christ is what saves us (Gal 2:15–16), not how much good or bad someone has done. This is true of those we love who have committed suicide. This is true for everyone.
So, when we ask if someone who took their own life can be with Jesus or not, the difficult answer is, we do not know for sure until we can ask this of Jesus face-to-face. It would be impossible for us to fully know a person’s heart and whether they have truly put their trust in Jesus, even as they struggle in the last moments of their life with depression and despair.
But what we do know is that God desires for all to know Him (1 Tim 2:3–4; 2 Pet 3:8–9). He is also compassionate and merciful (Exod 34:6–7; Mic 7:18–19; Ps 103:8–14), He understands grief and pain (John 11:33–36), and He cares for those who are vulnerable and oppressed (Deut 24:17-22; Jer 22:3; Matt 25:31–46).
If you have lost a friend to suicide and are wrestling with this question, you can find comfort in knowing that God is not blind to those who suffer, and when a person is driven by desperation to take their own life, God grieves with them in their suffering and mourns over them at their death as well.