“Your packing a suitcase to a place that none of us has been. A place that has to be believed to be seen.”

-Bono
“Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”

I have needed to write this ever since the death of Robin Williams. Every public suicide gets to me. Well . . . every suicide I hear about gets to me, public or not. I wish it didn’t. I wish it was some distant thing that was as familiar to me as plane crashes, getting struck by lightening, or the death penalty. Sure, I have heard about those things and they are tragic, but they are what happens to those on the other side of the world, not to me. Suicide is different since, as many of you know, my sister killed herself in 2004.

These are suicidal thoughts on suicide because when I think about this subject or put some thoughts to paper, it is almost more than I can bear. To think this world affords us the pain and suffering that it must take to pull the proverbial trigger makes me quite troubled.

Statistics on Suicide

Here are some basic statistics on suicide:

  • A suicide occurs every 15 minutes in USA
  • 35,000 per year
  • Fourth leading cause of death of people ages 18-65
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but twice as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • Firearms account for 60 percent of all suicides.
  • More active duty soldiers die from suicide than from combat

“Hold me now . . . Cause I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking, maybe six feet ain’t that far down.”

-Creed
“One Last Breath”

Suicides in the Bible

It might be interesting to note that there are quite a few suicides recorded in the Bible. Here is what I found.

1. Abimelech – Judges 9:54

2. Samson – Judges 16:30

3. King Saul  – 1 Sam. 31:4

4. King Saul’s armour-bearer – 1 Sam 31:5

5. Ahithophel – 2 Sam. 17:23

6. Zimri – 1 Kings 16:18

7. Judas – Matt. 27:5

Questions About Suicide

1. Can Christians Kill Themselves?

The simple answer to this question is “yes.” To somehow make suicide as an unforgivable sin is not only unbiblical but destroys the essence of the Gospel. Despite this, there are many Christians who have been led to believe that suicide cannot be forgiven. Where does this come from?

More than likely it comes from bad theology of the past. Before the Reformation we used to distinguish between two types of sin: mortal and venial. A mortal sin was that which destroys the grace of God in our soul. Anyone who committed a mortal sin was no longer saved. A venial sin was the type which does not destroy God’s grace, but one that we would have to suffer for in this life or in Purgatory. Murder was considered a mortal sin. Suicide is self-murder. And since there was no way to repent of this sin in this life, suicide was thought to be unforgivable.

In the sixteenth century, the Reformers rejected this mortal/venial distinction of sin. There is simply no justification for saying that certain types of sins were so bad that they needed a special dispensation of the grace of God in order to be or remain saved. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin immediately and forever not just the ones that are not quite as bad (1 John 1:7).

Rom 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Could you imagine if this verse needed to be qualified by suicide? “Nothing (ahem . . . except suicide) can separate you from the love of God. . . ” Death—even suicide—cannot separate you from God’s love.

Unfortunately, Christians do kill themselves. But fortunately, they are still in God’s loving merciful hands and we will see them again in glory.

2. Why do Christians Kill Themselves?

This is a more difficult question to answer. Not so much because it is hard to find the answer but because people think that being a Christian somehow shields us from such thoughts. This is not the case. In answer to the question “Why do Christians kill themselves?” it is quite simple: for the same reasons non-Christians kill themselves. Life’s circumstances fare no better for believers than for others. The divorce rate is the same, cancer rate is the same, just as many Christians find themselves out of work as non-Christians, and tragedy is no less likely to enter our lives than others.

In fact, one might make the case that Christians have much more temptation to do so (at least from the outside) than non-Christians. We believe that we are in a hostile world that is filled with evil and evil powers that have every intention of combating our love for God. Satan approached Job because he had a faith unlike any other on earth. And after Satan was allowed to inflict tragedy upon tragedy on Job, there are many time that I see Job as having a death wish. It was a miracle that he did not kill himself.

And from what I can see from Scripture, whenever Satan gains maximum influence upon a person, they are suicidal. I think of the demoniac who sought to hurt himself (Mark 5:5) and the boy who continually was throwing himself in the fire and water trying to “destroy” himself (Mark 9:22). Even the pigs into whom the demons where cast could think of nothing but suicide (Luke 8:33). So it seems clear that when the hostility of our world is personified, suicide is his main agenda.

One of the questions that my sister continually asked me during her depression was if I was sure that Christians who commit suicide go to heaven. That was a difficult question to answer, knowing what she was planning. Since then I have often wondered if suicide was not more of a temptation for Christians (in one respect) due to the fact that we know we will be out of pain and with God.

In short, the circumstances that cause one to be so distraught with life that they are willing to take their own life exist just as much (if not more so) with Christians as they do with non-Christians.

3. Who does it Affect?

Ten years after the death of Angie, this is where I pause and take the deepest breath. Why? Because I don’t know how to communicate this to those of you who are considering suicide more passionately. Angie used to say that we would all forget about her death after a year or two. She said we would get on with our lives and everyone would be okay. Nothing has been further from the truth.

They say that living with suicide cannot be compared to anything else. Like murder, it leaves a mark of darkness that more natural deaths do not. Since the death of my sister our family has experienced a roller-coaster of terrible events that I don’t think would have taken place otherwise. My father immediately started drinking heavily again. His guilt put him on a road that he never came back from—a road only for those with a death wish. He died last November at 66, the official cause being pneumonia. The actual cause was guilt. The type of guilt that hopes for death and does not care about physical health and refuses to check into a hospital when pneumonia is about to kill. My mother could not come out of her depression after Angie’s death. She cried for two years as her blood pressure rose. Finally an aneurysm ruptured and left her paralyzed; a different person. Me and my sisters have experienced significant depression since Angie’s death. We have all learned to live with it but her death provides an ambient static background noise to our entire lives. It never leaves us.

So, if you think your death will cause very little ripples in the lives of your loved ones, I beg you to think again. It will cripple them in so many ways for the rest of their lives. Christ redeems all things, including suicide, but we would all trade your death for your life a thousand times over.

4. How do we Prevent it?

I wish I knew how to prevent this. I don’t. Of course, first and foremost, we need to help people open up about their problems, both to themselves and others. This is a non-negotiable. Then they can seek help. But beyond that, I don’t know how to prevent it. I don’t know what I would do differently with my sister. So often, there is no way to prevent it. We just place these brokenhearted souls in the hands of our merciful and gracious God and reserve any judgement. This is a really tough world and, for some, it is a lot tougher than others.

But I would like to think that if Angie read this she would at least know how far reaching her decision would be. Would that have prevented her from doing what she did? I doubt it . . . but maybe. Maybe it would have given her one more day and her brain would have, as she put it, stop trying to kill her. Maybe it would have motivated her to check herself into a place more long term. Maybe it would have let her see past her own pain just for long enough to see the total wave of pain it would bring about.

This all makes me long for the day when pain will be no more. I am forever brokenhearted for those who desire death this much and for those who have had loved ones that desired death this much.

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C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.

Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    66 replies to "Suicidal Thoughts on Suicide"

    • dale

      I am sorry that you have to write such a blog, Michael, but it has helped me today and I hope it has others who are reading about suicide this week, National Suicide Prevention Week. My heart aches for all of us who have had to know the sorrow and anguish from the suicide of our children, siblings, loved ones. It will affect us for the rest of our lives.

      There is a scientific explanation for depression and other mental illnesses. The brain can become ill just like any other part of the body. While I believe there are illnesses that cause people to irrationally want to die, I do believe that Christians are the most vulnerable to satanic attacks and spiritual warfare. Why would Satan go after those who are already in his corner? My son’s journal are filled with his prayers asking God not to let him destroy himself. He struggled with depression and severe mood swings for months prior to his death. I know he is with Jesus and that sustains me but I can understand your parents health problems from the anguish your sister’s suicide caused. For quite some time, I truly wanted to die and I prayed for death. There is a guilt that attaches itself to our psyche that I know comes from Satan. It will be a constant warfare until I am called home or Jesus returns.

      Would you mind if I repost this on my blog on the page “Inspirational Guest Bloggers?” God bless you and your family.

    • Rebecca

      I am sorry to hear of your loss. Committing suicide used to be illegal in this country, and maybe it still is. The Christian lawmakers who made it illegal did so for a reason. One reason might be, “Thou shalt not kill.”
      I did not grow up in a Christian family, although my mother, for political reasons, had our family start going to church when I was seven years old. This was the greatest thing she ever did for any of us.
      My mother was also big on us knowing the law. I realized at a fairly young age that there was a reason for the law against suicide, even if I didn’t know exactly what it was. My small introduction to Christianity and the law, kept me from doing many things, like committing suicide when I was a young adult.
      Although there is only one unforgivable sin, there are many things we are not to do as Christians or as citizens or even as caring people. Since the end of WWII especially, our country has been purposefully moving away from Christianity. The laws have been changed. This has caused a predictable increase in suicide. This makes evangelism so very important. You have one more reason to be a Christian. God bless.

    • Terri

      I desire death this much.

      • Kristen

        I am praying for you. Please know there will be better days than this… hang on, God loves you, you are not alone!
        -k

      • joa

        I hear that. I feel it, too. It’s a hard fight, isn’t it. Pray for us.

    • C Michael Patton

      You bet. Post it.

    • John

      While I don’t particularly think that suicide is unforgivable, neither do I think you can dismiss the idea so easily. Plenty of verses say that those in serious sin can’t be saved (eg 1cor 6:9). If you’re Arminian, one might talk about losing your salvation. If you’re Calvinist one might say it’s an indication you were never saved anyway (like those people who apparently fall away).

      Anyway, the point is, how did you become so certain of this point against other contrary arguments? Isn’t the best you can say is that maybe it’s forgivable?

    • dale

      Thank you, Michael. I have placed your post under the heading: Does A Suicide Go To Heaven? Theology and Mental Illness at http://lengirl53.wordpress.com

    • Princess

      Maybe we could dump the 16th century theologians and see the mercy and grace that allowed Samson a place in history. I don’t know that I would consider Saul’s, his armor bearer’s or Samson’s deaths suicides, but rather deaths in the context of battle or destroying the enemy. Zimri was killed by the Levite Pinechas for immorality right in front of the mishkan.

      Did anyone see Matt Walsh wrote an article claiming Robin Williams, “just made a choice?” Well, how did he know? Did he question the family? Do any research? No, he just came up with that conclusion himself.

      I heard an interesting interpretation of the verses in Romans. The author claimed that the Greek could go in either direction, either saying that nothing can separate us from God’s love for us, but could also mean that nothing can separate us from our love for God. Perhaps the latter is true?

      • Michael Karpf

        Princess, in Greek, we have the genitive case. Genitive usually indicates possession. It functions like the word “of.” I have a list of 18 uses of the genitive. I’m sure there are more uses out there as well. An objective genitive would have Christ as the object. It is like saying “love for Christ.” A subjective genitive would have Christ as the subject, like saying “love of Christ for us.” Romans 8:32-35 uses love of Christ in the subjective genitive. It is Christ’s love for us. If we look at the whole context, then we are secure in God’s love. I tell people that there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or less. His love for us is the one overriding factor. It doesn’t justify suicide, but a person who takes his or her life is still secure in Christ. Hope this helps.

        • Rebecca

          To Michael, Jesus says it is His way or the highway. Where do you get security in Christ for all of those who commit suicide? Are you talking about non-believers as well?

          • Michael Karpf

            I believe that a person who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior is eternally secure. This only applies to believers in Christ. An unbeliever faces a Christless eternity in hell. Living in Japan for 4 years, there are approximately 90 suicides a day. A very small percentage of Japanese believe in Jesus, making it even more tragic.
            I do believe that if a Christian commits suicide, he or she will still spend eternity with Jesus. Our salvation is not based on works, it is based on our faith in God’s promises. God never lies or breaks His promises. Still, it does not make it ok to commit suicide. I know. I have been there.

            • Rebecca

              Thanks for the explanation. So then the question becomes are they really believers in Jesus? Have they been saved? This is something we don’t know about others. Everyone I know of has had experiences with suicide in friends and/or relatives and/or themselves. My suicidal friends and co-workers were not Christian, and neither was I at the time. And, the Japanese have been known for committing suicide. I don’t think they are more clinically depressed than other groups of people. So, although we need to use all methods to help suicidal people, we need to especially keep our Christian ideals out there for others to see. I’m thinking only around half of the people in America go to church on a regular basis. Yet, many more than that call themselves Christian.

    • Rebecca

      To Princess, Although I am not exactly sure of what you are trying to say, one of our problems today is that we have dumped 16th century theologians.

    • Tanita

      Michael,

      I have been reading your blog for years and never thought I would find myself in the circumstance of desiring to take my own life; however, I am now there & have been for several months. Please do not worry, as I am under the care of a great psychiatrist & psychologist (both are Christians) but your thoughts came at a good time for me. Robin Williams’ suicide put me in an extremely vulnerable position & I’m struggling even more so than before.

      A theologian acquaintance of mine told me to treat this as spiritual warfare & so I’m attempting to battle this everyday but it is difficult. I just wanted to let you know that your comments were helpful.

    • C Michael Patton

      I understand Tanita. I am so glad you are under care. I have prayed for God to give you a new strength and raise up with wings like eagles.

      • Tanita

        Thank you so much, Michael

    • ounbbl

      I my life I have lost several of my friends by suicide. I miss them so much. In your writing the sentence ‘can they kill themselves’ seems an illogical English sentence – an abuse of ‘can’. Does it mean ‘may’ or ‘able to’ or ‘be permitted’, etc. ‘Why do they kill’ is probably meant to say ‘how come’.

    • David

      I will be praying for you as you still deal with the hurt and pain of your sister’s death. I thanks you for this article that is helpful to those contemplating this sin. I agree that we have full forgiveness of sins because of the precious blood of Christ. I believe that when Paul wrote through the Holy Spirit, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” Rom 5:1. I thank the Lord for having the righteousness of Christ even when I fail Him, I am forgiven. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Col 2:13-14. I believe this also includes suicide. The false teaching of bad theology has clouded Biblical truth. I thank you for sharing your heart and teaching the word of God.

    • Ed

      If the reformers chucked the notion of mortal vs venial sin then how do you interpret 1 John 5:16 “If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.”

    • Ed

      “In the sixteenth century, the Reformers rejected this mortal/venial distinction of sin.” How does one reconcile 1 John 5:16-17? If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.

    • Danielle

      Michael, thank you for continuing to address this topic. My own brother’s suicide continues to be such a burden for those of us who knew/loved him (especially his 3 young children). I know it will always be so this side of eternity. Depression is real. Just another part of this broken world. Hopefully more Church leaders will begin to candidly address this topic.

      Tanita, I said a prayer for you. I prayed that our loving and merciful Lord renews your heart and mind. That He gives you the strength to persevere. That this dark cloud goes away.

    • Jeremy Wright

      Thank you for this article. As a paramedic I have seen dozens of suicides and attempts in the field. It is hard enough to wrap your mind aroud the event itself, not to mention the question of why. Young and old, rich and poor, christian and non-christian, mental illness does not discriminate. After reading many of their notes and hearing about their struggle with mental illness, I can’t help but think that many christians take this issue too lightly. Some would soley attribute it to a spiritual problem when it is a very real disease, and may have nothing to do with ones spiritual condition. The church used to attribute epilepsy to deamon posession. Lets not make the same mistake with mental illness. Some would even reject the idea of professional counseling and try to handle it as a young pastor. Not to mention the stigma surrounding mental illness is such that many avoid treatment all together, resulting in a life lost. I think that spreading awareness, encouraging those who do suffer from mental illness to seek help, and providing emotional spiritual support is crutial to getting control of this epidemic.

    • Christopher Painter

      Michael,

      Thank you for writing this. I have had those very dark times where I thought I could not go on. Thankfully those days are far behind me. But, this article was well written and very relevant for these days. Specifically for those of us that are left behind wondering if this mistake costs our loved ones their salvation.

    • J.r.

      Amen Michael,

      I’m four years in recovery of loosing a brother-in-law and sister to suicide and I still write letters to her which helps me to cope with my pain.

      Suicide only transfers the pain to the survivors.

    • Lee

      For those with any doubts about it being forgivable: If our sin is not forgivable, why did Jesus die on the cross? Matthew 12:31 is clear as well. “Therefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”

    • Rachel

      Lee, Sin will be forgiven but true repentance must happen first.

      • Lee

        Jesus died for all our sins, future and present. If we die while running a stop sign, going through a yellow light, or while talking on the phone with our mother telling her that she looked pretty tonight, ( white lie), before we repent, then we are not saved? If that were the case, then all who have asked Jesus into their heart, has to hope and pray that they get the chance to repent for every sin before they die unexpectedly. We are saved by grace, not by our righteousness, and when we ask Jesus into our heart, we are able to depend upon Jesus’ righteousness. We will never be righteous without Him.

    • John

      “Matthew 12:31 is clear as well. “Therefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,”

      The argument about suicide is NOT about the manner of the sin, the argument is about the lack of possibilty of repenting.

      • dale

        In regard to repentance and forgiveness of sins:

        Question: “What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?”

        Answer: Many understand the term repentance to mean “turning from sin.” This is not the biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

        What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

        Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.

        It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself (John 6:44). Acts 5:31 and 11:18 indicate that repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).

        While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19-23; James 2:14-26). Repentance, properly defined, is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.

        Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/repentance.html#ixzz3DK4psXy2

        • dale

          “He that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37

          No limit is set to the duration of this promise. It does not merely say, “I will not cast out a sinner at his first coming,” but, “I will in no wise cast out.” The original read, “I will not, not cast out,” or “I will never, never cast out.” The text means, that Christ will not at first reject a believer; and that as He will not do it at first, so He will not to the last.
          But suppose the believer sins after coming? “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” But suppose that believers backslide? “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him.” But believers may fall under temptation! “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” But the believer may fall into sin as David did! Yes, but He will purge them with hyssop, and they shall be clean; he will wash them and they shall be whiter than snow”; “From all their iniquities will I cleanse them.”
          “I give unto my sheep,” saith He, “eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” What sayest thou to this, O trembling feeble mind? Is not this a precious mercy, that coming to Christ, thou dost not come to One who will treat thee well for a little while, and then send thee about thy business, but He will receive thee and make thee His bride, and thou shalt be His forever? Receive no longer the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby thou shalt cry, Abba, Father! Oh! The grace of these words: “I will in no wise cast out.”

          Charles H. Spurgeon ( Morning and Evening Devotions)

      • Lee

        Sorry to repeat this, but everyone needs to know that Jesus died for all our sins, future and present. If we die while running a stop sign, going through a yellow light, or while talking on the phone with our mother telling her that she looked pretty tonight, ( white lie), before we repent, then we are not saved? If that were the case, then all who have asked Jesus into their heart, has to hope and pray that they get the chance to repent for every sin before they die unexpectedly. We are saved by grace, not by our righteousness, and when we ask Jesus into our heart, we are able to depend upon Jesus’ righteousness. We will never be righteous without Him.

        • dale

          Now that’s what I call GRACE! Amen and Praise God.

    • Sharon

      I remember a rash of suicides in the community of majority teenagers and the peoples idea of it being an unpardonable sin came from the verse Galations 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’.
      I am younger than they so I am not sure if they were taught this or came to their own conclusion when reading it.
      My brother may have committed suicide but we aren’t really sure because of the nature of his death but it was very hard on all of us.
      I recall being told, ‘I guess we all take the blame for this death’ but I said no, not I. I loved my brother and if I had been home I would have been there for him and tried to persuade him to keep on living. I had been talking with him before then but went out of the community for a couple of days.
      A person who is bent on taking their own life cannot be helped. My brother told of the great pain in his head as though guitar strings were being dragged back and forth through and no matter what he did he could not rid himself of it.
      He had been through so much torment especially after he remembered being abused as a child which drove him even madder because he was trying to remember who it was. On the family night viewing I was walking up front to the family area. They had a picture of my brother’s closed coffin and when I looked at it, it was as torrents of tears streaming down the front of it. I stopped and told him everything is going to be alright as I have prayed for you then the tears went away.
      When I was going through the refiners fire, there were times when I too had felt like I was going mad, and the pain was excruciating. I recalled the verse about hoping for death but death would not come so vividly at times.
      I cried, I begged, I cursed but in the end, thy will be done.
      God asks Is there no one who loved this man enough to pray for his soul?
      Sometimes a person takes their life not because they want to but circumstances have made living so unbearable that they prefer no longer to live regardless of the sin.

      The only thing I don’t understand here is how suicide is self-murder and this is the 2nd or 3rd time I have heard the term. Is that another of those politically correctness or what is the reason?

      • Rebecca

        People have committed suicide and been against it for at least a few thousand years, so it certainly has nothing to do with political correctness. Remember reading about Anthony and Cleopatra? Romeo and Juliet? Socrates?There many reasons why someone might commit suicide. They might have an organic brain disease, which causes them to hear things. Or they might be depressed. Someone might be smoking a lot of marijuana. Studies have shown marijuana can cause a person to commit suicide without depression. Someone else might do it in order to hurt other people, an in “I’ll show you!”… A man I knew committed suicide when he found out he had terminal cancer. He tried to make it look like someone else did it. He wanted his family to be able to collect more life insurance than they would have gotten if he died of a terminal disease. Another person I read about, lost his sight and that was more than he could take….If a Christian is right with God, God will forgive him or her. If they are not, He will not. We don’t make decisions for God. But, we do want to know just what we each need to do, in order to be right with Him. The Bible is God’s word and by reading it, and studying it we find His answers.

    • John

      “The only thing I don’t understand here is how suicide is self-murder and this is the 2nd or 3rd time I have heard the term. ”

      Homocide = Latin for human-murder (or kill)
      Suicide = Latin for self-murder (or kill)

      I don’t think it’s some great theological insight, just simple inference.

    • Darin

      Great article… just a note on you saying the divorce rate among Christians being the same as the world. I think this has been proven to be a statistical error based on the fact that many people align themselves with the Christian faith even though they may not be Christians.

      When studied from the perspective of serious repentant sinners who live a lifestyle that identifies them as Christians, the numbers aren’t even close.

      Sorry for adding this to an article that was not primarily about this subject, but I hear this all of the time and its simply not the case, although Christians do in fact divorce -right or wrong, its not at the same rate as non Christians.

    • John

      “When studied from the perspective of serious repentant sinners who live a lifestyle that identifies them as Christians, the numbers aren’t even close.”

      Not that I doubt you or anything, but where do you get your figures?

      • Darin

        John,

        I believe both Matt Chandler and Al Mohler have debunked this. I think Mohler might have sited a study, but its been a while.

        But lets say there is wasn’t no data, think about it for a minute. True Christians working hard to stay married because they believe its the right thing to do vrs the world. One wouldn’t need a study to know that the divorce rate would be different. I see it all around me, friends who are now Christians who were headed for divorce, but now aren’t. It’s only logical that the true rates of divorce would be very different.

    • Curious Thinker

      I am too sad for your loss and your family’s loss. Suicide is a real tragedy and although many don’t like to think about it can happen to Christians as well. Maybe the Christian community can do more to bring this topic out and find ways to discuss and deal with it and how to help others to prevent from doing it. I don’t know all the solutions but I hope the first steps can be taken to address it among the church.

    • John

      @dale:”But suppose the believer sins after coming? “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” But suppose that believers backslide? “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely;”

      That’s all great and all. But what about this:?

      2Pet. 2:19-22 For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

      • dale

        From the Life Application Study Bible :

        2 Peter 2 :19 A person is a slave to whatever controls him or her. Many believe that freedom means doing anything they want. But no one is ever completely free in that sense. If we refuse to follow God, we will follow our own sinful desires and become enslaved to what our body wants. If we submit our lives to Christ, he will free us from slavery to sin. Christ frees us to serve him, a freedom that results in our ultimate good.

        2 Peter 20-22 Peter is speaking to those who have learned about Christ and how to be saved but then reject the truth and return to their sin. These people are worse off then before because they have rejected the only way of salvation. Like someone sinking into quicksand who refuses to grab the rope thrown to him/her, the person who turns away from Christ rejects the only means of escape. (see Luke 11: 24-26)

      • mjazz

        If you believe in the eternal security of the believer, you will interpret this verse one way, if you believe that you can lose your salvation, then you will interpret it to mean that.

    • John

      ” This is not the biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.””

      There are no biblical definitions of words. Partly because the bible has no lexicon. Partly because the bible uses the common language of the time, not some special set of definitions. Partly because words usually have various meanings and nuances of meanings, the context determining which is applicable. A word might mean one thing in one place in the bible, and something else somewhere else.

      Change of mind is one meaning of μετανοέω. It’s not the only one. It’s not the “biblical” one. It’s one that may be appropriate depending on context.

    • Glenn Shrom

      Thank you very much for these honest and powerful thoughts. I am sure that if there were some magic words to prevent another’s suicide, Jesus would have spoken them to Judas. Bono’s quote should be “you’re” instead of “your”. I’ve shared with several people today already about the power that the truth has, that at least one should know the truth before deciding – the truth that suicide affects many people for the bad, and that it isn’t simply forgotten and negligible in the lives of others. I had to run the numbers several times to understand how males can have four times as many suicides as females, yet females have twice the number of attempted suicides; the numbers really do work. If there are 100 male suicides, for instance, there would be 25 female ones. The number of attempted suicides for these same 100 male suicides could be 200 for woman and 100 for men, or 1000 for woman and 500 for men, etc.

    • Esther O'Reilly

      This is so powerful. A great complement to the piece Matt Walsh wrote shortly after this news broke, where he urged people not to sentimentalize suicide. Thanks for your candor and vulnerability.

      Knowing how fond you were of Williams’ work, I thought you might appreciate this video I put together in an attempt to get past the sentiment and uncover the “lost soul” behind the mask. I’ve also offered more thoughts on my own site.

    • John

      @dale ” These people are worse off then before because they have rejected the only way of salvation.”

      Ok. And what is the evidence that you have rejected?

      2Pet. 2:19 For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

      One could certainly make the argument that someone who suicides is “overcome”.

      I’m not saying that’s the last word, but it’s a reasonable argument.

      • dale

        Going to hell would be the awful evidence of rejecting Christ.

        Your argument that a person who dies by suicide is “overcome” is subjective. My personal experience is that depression/mental illness is a disease and can most certainly cause death by suicide. My Savior, Jesus Christ would not condemn an ill person just because they are ill and their mind was “overcome” by a disease that affects behavior. His grace is sufficient for all who believe.

        I’m glad you don’t have the last word.

    • John

      “Your argument that a person who dies by suicide is “overcome” is subjective.”

      Sure it is subjective. But so would be any interpretation of this verse. At the end of the day, when we read this verse we should come up with some theories about when it applies. This theory is as good as any, albeit cautious.

      But then again, you quoted Spurgeon saying that anyone who backslides will recover. That’s rather unbiblical too, and even more… umm… lacking caution.

    • John

      “My Savior, Jesus Christ would not condemn an ill person just because they are ill and their mind was “overcome” by a disease that affects behaviour”

      Perhaps. But also, people blame lots of behaviour on illnesses. Arguably, all sin is some kind of illness. Pedophilia is some kind of mental illness, maybe?

      • dale

        I’m thinkin’ John, that you may want to take this up with Jesus. You are trying to argue on certain points and I really don’t know what your point is. Is it that you really want to know, or is it because you already seem to have all the answers.

        As for Spurgeon’s message, he was not cautioning so much as he was comforting. Remember, he was addressing Believers/Christians. Salvation is already ours. Backsliding is not rejection of Christ, but rather the weakness of our nature as sinners. We will continue to sin until Christ returns. Knowing that is what actually makes us understand and appreciate the sacrifice that was Jesus Christ’s. It is the constant reminder that we NEED a savior and that we NEED forgiveness. Please read my first comment concerning repentance if this causes you to question the “we are sinners” part.

      • dale

        “Perhaps. But also, people blame lots of behavior on illnesses. Arguably, all sin is some kind of illness. Pedophilia is some kind of mental illness, maybe?”

        There really is no argument that we are in a fallen world with our imperfect selves. It could be said that illness is a result of the fall of mankind. It is the consequence of that fall that leads to illness and death, otherwise we would have perfect bodies in a perfect garden like it was meant to be in the first place. Perhaps Pedophilia could be under the same umbrella as mental illness. There is caution to heed in the Bible where we are told not to judge others …that only God knows our hearts.

    • John

      “Backsliding is not rejection of Christ”

      “thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and a bitter, that thou hast forsaken Jehovah thy God” (Jeremiah 2:19 ASV)

      Forsaken… Rejection… sounds like the same thing.

      “Salvation is already ours.”

      Yeah, unless you throw it away and fall away. Heb 6:4.

      • dale

        You are quoting from the OT …the wrathful God. Jesus Christ changed everything, including our backsliding.

        What I think we are doing is just jousting with the tenets of two opposing denominations…one is about the grace of God while the other is all about the law./legalism. We are battling..so to speak…with ammunition from the same arsenal and getting no where.

        It would be a most miserable existence knowing that at any moment with any bad thought, word, or deed, that you are doomed to hell… that God’s grace was NOT sufficient for you. I hope you don’t get struck by lightening while you are having a sinful thought, or that you don’t have a heart attack while you are angry, or that you never resolved your differences with your enemies before you have communion, or that…well, you get my drift. What a horrible way to live. Never quite feeling redeemed. That what God gave to us on the cross was a gift that could be taken back at any time.

        “fall away” would be another way of rejecting Christ…not that you slip up and sin again.

    • John

      “Perhaps Pedophilia could be under the same umbrella as mental illness.”

      That’s great and all, but at some point you have to say that 2 Peter 2:20 must have some meaning, that sin leads to destruction, and not just say, hey it’s not our fault. Otherwise scripture has no meaning. I mean, one can make a cogent argument that every behaviour is an unfortunate consequence of the arrangement of atoms in our brain. But where does that leave the Christian world view?

    • dale

      I am not excusing all bad behavior…just the act of suicide. My son died from his depression..so did the author’s sister of this blog. It is a real illness not a chosen behavior or a flawed faith or character. And yes, I do believe that sin can lead to destruction and that we who are of sound mind cannot not point the finger at others for what we have done. At the same time, I believe we are forgiven if we trust in Christ, illness or not.

    • John

      “Jesus Christ changed everything, including our backsliding.”

      How would you justify that, in light of all the NT verses about falling away?

      ” I hope you don’t get struck by lightening while you are having a sinful thought, or that you don’t have a heart attack while you are angry, or that you never resolved your differences with your enemies before you have communion”

      That would be a very extreme position at the other end of the spectrum. What I would argue is, just because you are afraid of that end of the spectrum is not a good reason to override the plain meaning of scripture when it says you can fall away through sin.

      “one is about the grace of God while the other is all about the law./legalism. ”

      Grace… on some level… has to be accepted through repentance. Otherwise its just a case of being universalists. You can call that legalism if you want… if you think accepting a gift is legalism.

      “I am not excusing all bad behavior…just the act of suicide.”

      Why should we necessarily treat suicide differently to other bad behaviour?

      “It is a real illness not a chosen behaviour ”

      I’m sure it is. Probably depression leads some people to never trust in Christ. Is that sin forgiven too?

      Perhaps it is. But we can’t assume such things like dogma. That’s the point.

    • Dr Steve H Hakes

      I have found Dr John White’s, The Masks of Melancholy, extremely helpful.

    • dale

      You have used the word “argue” many times throughout these comments. It pretty much explains your position and your lack of empathy.

    • John

      “You have used the word “argue” many times throughout these comments. It pretty much explains your position and your lack of empathy.”

      All right, let’s sit around in a circle and sing Kumbaya with lots of empathy. Everyone will be saved, don’t worry about sin. No worries, she’ll be right, mate.

      • Rebecca

        There are different reasons for suicide. And mental illness is not what is being talked about in the Bible- soul illness is. I think both of you have points. Saying someone has a mental illness when they do something criminal (pedophilia) is a modern way of explaining things, not a Biblical one. On the other hand, there are many examples of a forgiving father in the Bible, as well as many examples of what we should be doing after we are saved. If we have a “born again” experience we should have some changes of behavior which would lead to certain actions, and not others. Trusting in God would be such a change of behavior. Suicide would sometimes indicate an unbelief, but not all the time. Mourning a person’s death should not take longer than a year, in most instances. However, showing some tact is Christian.

    • Rod

      It’s funny, I came from reading your post on husbands being called and wives not being in agreement. That is very much my situation and has been since first being married. Thank you, for that post and this one. I was a youth and asst. pastor right out of college. I was single and very lonely. I had been suffering from depression since I was a kid, even after becoming a christian. My mother passed away when I was 17. And my life, or AT LEAST HOW I SAW IT, went down hill from there.

      My ministry was failing. Then I met a girl, we were married, I was so happy, BUT when we returned from our honeymoon, there was a letter waiting for me saying I’d been fired from the church. Always 1 step forward 10 steps back.That ended my ministry for the time being. This “cured” my wife of ever wanting to be a minister’s wife.

      Fast forward 13 years. After working various jobs, I knew I didn’t belong. When the economy crashed I was laid off and accept for a few odd jobs here and there I’ve been unemployed. With a wife and daughter to help feed. I wanted to return to ministry but my wife still refused.

      It seemed like God hated me. What was I left to do. I took at least 120 pills. I’m not sure anyone could have stopped it. Good thing I chickened out and told my wife. I remember my daughter saying, “don’t go to sleep daddy, you’ll die”

      I Share this here, but have not share with people I know because of the stigma attached, especially from my christian brothers ans sisters.

      WE HAVE TO MAKE CHURCH A JUDGMENT FREE ZONE FOR ALL PEOPLE, so that people like me can open up about the problems we face AND FEEL LOVED. Thankfully, for me, I have found a therapist who is also a christian.

    • PIB Brusque

      Hello Mr. C Michael Patton.

      How are you?

      We are a Baptist Church located in the south of Brazil and, in this last September, we promoted in our community a discussion on the theme “Depression and Suicide”. The statistics in our region are not good.

      We translated your text and posted it on our Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/brusque.pib/photos/a.242095825974134.1073741830.238947412955642/321349728048743/?type=1)

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      May God bless you.

      First Baptist Church in Brusque / SC – Brazil

    • Anthony

      Michael Patton, no question I’d difficult to answer when you truly have the Lord in your heart, mind and soul. Christians and even those who claim not to be Christians commit suicide to to shame of doing something that realize was wrong or felt they have been living a life not fitting to what the Lord expects from them. The word to use is guilt. A sin which is forgivable. But when people who decide to do this premeditated suicide because they do not want to die from the pain of a terminal illness, this is the same as murder. Christ did not commit suicide when He had to endure the pain and suffering during His last days. I did say all sins are forgivable, and they are, should you seek forgiveness. The only sin that is not forgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    • ELB

      You seem like a teachable guy….I would like for you to do a little (that’s all it will take) research on Neuroplacticity. It is science of rebuilding neurons in our brain, very similar to renewing of our minds. It will give you a fresh outlook on reversing mental illnesses; clinically proven. Prevention is what we all can focus more on.

    • Rob

      I think about it a lot. I’m in my forties, alone and ill. I’ve got no close family or friends, and I see the future as getting sicker, poorer, and darker. I’m not about to do it, but I entertain the thought everyday.

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