Does a person go to hell if they commit suicide?
There was a long belief in the Catholic Church that if a person committed suicide, there would be no possibility of eternal salvation for that person.
The reason was that murder is a mortal sin, one that requires a person to go to confession, or at least make a perfect act of contrition, in order to be forgiven.
But because that person’s LAST act was to kill themselves, there was no possibility of them turning around and seeking forgiveness for it.
So, for many HUNDREDS of years, suicide was considered an unforgiveable sin, and people who committed it could not even get a Catholic funeral, or be buried in a Catholic cemetery.
But, do we still think this way? The answer is no.
See, back in those old days, we didn’t really understand the conditions that led a person to commit suicide – in particular, we didn’t understand things like severe chemical depression.
When a person is depressed, we tend to think of it as a weakness on their part. They’re depressed because they’re sad, or can’t handle things.
So people were often ashamed to admit that they were depressed, and often didn’t seek treatment. As a matter of fact this is STILL the case for lots of people.
But now modern medicine realizes that depression is actually an illness, not just an emotion. This is particularly the case for clinical depression, which can happen randomly, for no reason at all.
A person who is depressed needs medical help, just like someone who has a heart condition, or diabetes, or cancer.
The nature of the disease kinda like diabetes. With diabetes, the body stops making the chemicals that break down sugar, which we need to survive. With depression, in the brain, the chemicals that make us feel HAPPY stop flowing. Just as a blind person can’t see, sometimes a severely depressed person – can’t be happy.
And just like these other diseases, when left untreated, depression can be a terminal illness, and can lead to a person’s death.
But here’s the thing – one of the symptoms of this disease – is that the person that has it actually HIDES their illness from the people around them. Their depression actually makes them avoid asking for help, which doesn’t make sense.
But that’s the problem with depression. When it’s severe enough, a person is often not capable of even thinking straight any longer. They become irrational, they believe things that aren’t true, like that nobody loves them, even if there are people that do. It’s the ILLNESS that makes them think this.
And, sometimes it’s the illness that makes them take their life. So they don’t have a totally free choice a lot of the time, which is why a person isn’t necessarily committing an unforgiveable sin if they do it.
Suicide still is a sin – God doesn’t want us to take our own lives. No matter how bad things get, we can always have hope that things WILL get better, that people will care for us. God has a plan for everyone, even those in despair. So we shouldn’t take our lives. And we shouldn’t take our lives because of the terrible damage it does to those we leave behind. Suicicde is a sin – but we would no longer say that it is unforgiveable.
So, we can have a reasonable hope that our loved ones, who have committed suicide, could have eternal comfort in heaven, all the anguish and suffering that they experienced in life being at an end.