Does Committing Suicide Consign Someone to Hell?

[ 8 ] Comments

by RI Editors

This forum question is a part of our Peculiar Minds series.

Many people whose loved ones have ended their own lives face a double sorrow: not only have they, often quite out of the blue, lost someone they loved dearly, but they also must reconcile what will happen to their loved one’s soul. Our faith teaches great reverence for life, and the fact that David’s soul, after having senselessly cut short Uriah’s life, was never to be exalted, casts great doubts on the future of one who takes his or her own life. This can be excruciating for families whose sealing bonds now seem strained beyond resolution.

  • What do our prophets and apostles teach about the state of the soul when a loved one has committed suicide?
  • If you have experienced the suicide of a loved one in your life, how did you find peace?

 

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8 Responses to Does Committing Suicide Consign Someone to Hell?

  1. Bonnie says:

    Last August one of the friends of my oldest son, a boy who had spent as much time in my home as his own, committed suicide. We were wrenched in a way that I think nothing else wrenches people. I wrote about it, trying to get my mind around it, here and here and here. Our loving bishop, who had walked through this process with another ward member recently, shared an Ensign article Elder Ballard wrote in 1987 regarding suicide. It was beautifully helpful.

    This statement from Elder Ballard’s talk was especially helpful for me:

    The late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve, expressed what many Church leaders have taught: “Suicide consists in the voluntary and intentional taking of one’s own life, particularly where the person involved is accountable and has a sound mind. … Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts. Such are not to be condemned for taking their own lives. It should also be remembered that judgment is the Lord’s; he knows the thoughts, intents, and abilities of men; and he in his infinite wisdom will make all things right in due course.” (Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 771; some italics added.)

  2. Cheryl says:

    When my BIL killed himself, I think the very first thing we all thought was that God understood why and that He loved him. I know for myself that I never wondered if he was “consigned to hell” because there’s no way someone like him (as sick as his mind was) knew what he was doing. I still feel this way.

    When my great-uncle killed himself during the Great Depression, he left behind 7 children. It was devestating. But years later, as bi-polar disorder showed up in several of his children, people started to realize that perhaps he wasn’t in his right mind –it was comforting to them to realize this.

    So, simple answer: I don’t think it does, not when mental illness is a contributing factor.

  3. Tiffany W. says:

    As I understand it, the idea that the person who commits suicide is consigned to hell comes from Catholicism which made its way into Protestant religions. A person who committed suicide wasn’t allowed to be buried in hallowed ground on church property. I’m of the opinion that members often have this false idea not necessarily from a doctrinal basis but from religious traditions.

    There is a pretty succinct explanation of how the Church views suicide on http://www.LDS.org

    http://www.lds.org/topics/suicide?lang=eng

    “Although it is wrong to take one’s own life, a person who commits suicide may not be responsible for his or her acts. Only God can judge such a matter. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said:

    “Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide. Only the Lord knows all the details, and he it is who will judge our actions here on earth.

    ”When he does judge us, I feel he will take all things into consideration: our genetic and chemical makeup, our mental state, our intellectual capacity, the teachings we have received, the traditions of our fathers, our health, and so forth“ (”Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not,“ Ensign, Oct. 1987, 8).”

  4. Ray says:

    No. In the vast majority of cases, suicide is not murder – and I’m grateful the Church sees the difference.

    We believe that we will not be punished for things that happen due to reduced capacity (that such things are not counted as sin but rather transgression, which things are covered by the Atonement), so any suicide that includes an element of reduced capacity does not qualify as sin. Clinical mental disability is the easiest example, but I am convinced the effects of depressive tendencies falls solidly within that category. There also are situations that I believe fall within the category of “justifiable homicide”, if you will – where extreme pain, to use that example, can be a legitimate reason for ending life (whether done actively by the one suffering or by the withholding of life-prolonging measures).

    We live in a society that prolongs life with maniacal fervor, often to the detriment of life and faith. Some things aren’t as black-and-white as people would like them to be, and suicide absolutely is one of them.

  5. Sarah Hancock says:

    Because our Father in Heaven is the only one who knows our hearts and minds, he’s the only one who knows what really happened. When I was VERY ill, I thought I’d been called on a mission in the spirit world to be my grandma’s mission companion. After attempting suicide, and after I was able to see things from a “normal” perspective, I understood I was completely delusional. Gratefully I was able to get help and have been doing much better since.

  6. Molly says:

    When my friend killed himself last year, a wise speaker at his funeral said that, when clinically depressed, the mind has two false beliefs. First, he doubts the love of God. Second, he believes loved ones will be better off without him. How could one NOT commit suicide under such devastating “truths?” If I were God, I would take the suffering soul who committed suicide into my arms and hold him and heal him of earthly pains. And God loves His children even more than me. That is all.

  7. Log says:

    A close relative of mine apparently killed herself through a drug overdose. I wondered greatly about her final state, since, if suicide is a sin, by definition all suicides die in their sins. The Lord finally told me “All is well with her.”

    “Should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?” (Isaiah 8:19)

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