- According to statistics, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally, for all ages.
- According to the World Health Organisation, nearly one million people die yearly from suicide.
- According to Centres for Disease Control, an average of one person dies by suicide every 15 minutes. 1
Sometimes it is a person that you didn’t expect it of, like the actor, Robin Williams. Sometimes it is a committed believer. He or she was part of God’s family, saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Many families have been devastated when a parent or child committed suicide. What triggered them to such despair that they decided to end it all in a moment of deep anguish?
When we want to comfort the bereaved relatives, should we be like Job’s friends? Should we follow the example of his miserable supporters and explain ‘wisely,’ that a person who murdered him or herself won’t be in heaven?
Do we have to be so cruel as to condemn without insight? Do we have the right to add to the agony of the family? Of course not. That would compound their grief and might cause alienation. As far as we are concerned, we doubt if God gave us the right to judge or make pronouncements about the eternal destination of a person who committed suicide.
We don’t have insight into a person’s spirit. Can we understand the despair of people in certain situations, like the loss of a spouse or some terrible tragedy? It is doubtful. Only God is omniscient. We are not. Eventually only God knows all the details. Fortunately He is fair. He knows what happened, and He is the Righteous Judge.
However, we believe there are guidelines concerning eternal destinations:
- What was the person’s relationship with Jesus before death? This is important, since God established a rule: we decide our position in eternity here, in the now. If a person is a lover of God here, we can expect that he will be with God eternally and still love Him. If a person is saved and lives a holy life here, we can expect that he should be with God in eternity.
- What about a person that seemed to have no relationship with God? We might come to a fixed conclusion, but then again, what might have happened at the final hour? Look at the thief on the cross. 2 At the very last he realised who Jesus is, and that insight brought him eternal happiness in the presence of God.
Deciding the eternal destination of someone who committed suicide is, as far as we are concerned, not within the scope of humans. That belongs to our Lord God Almighty, who knows man’s heart. At the final judgement we will probably know. Until then, it is advisable to keep our opinions safely to ourselves and not compound the grief of people who lost a relative or friend who decided to end it all.
- Erin Gilmer, Health as a Human Right, May 23, 2011.
- Luke 23:39-43.