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Our readers asked:

Is is true that if someone commits suicide they will go to hell even if they are a Christian and believe in God?

Fr. Joe Answers:

Catholics believe that suicide is a serious evil in and of itself. It’s a sin against God, who is the author of all life, against the love of one’s own self as a creation of God, and against neighbor because it breaks the ties each person has with the human family. In Catholic teaching it is not permitted under any circumstances.

Even though suicide is considered such a serious sin, we cannot make any judgment about the eternal state of someone who has committed suicide. There are at least two reasons for this.

One reason is that we have no idea what the interior state of the person committing the act of suicide might be. So often persons who commit suicide do so because of depression, mental illness or because they are suffering from extreme physical or emotional pain. In Catholic theology to be guilty of a serious sin one must commmit the act with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will. Conditions of extreme emotional or physical pain can often diminish a person’s ability to act rationally or reflectively. While their action in taking their own life is objectively wrong, we cannot determine what subjective guilt for this action they may bear.

A second reason is that we believe in a God who is love. Jesus has revealed to us a God who is not angry or oriented toward punishing our sins, but whose stance toward us is always one of forgiveness and mercy. While we believe that we can of our own free will separate ourselves from God’s love, we also have reason to trust in the mercy of God who sees into the hearts of all, understands the pain of those who suffer, and wishes all people to be saved.

Catholics express this trust and hope by offering a funeral Mass for those who have taken their own lives and continuing to place them before the mercy of God in their prayers.

The Author : Fr. Joe
Fr. Joe Scott, CSP, has been a campus minister, pastor and editor as a Paulist priest.
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  • http://www.FrankDolski.Com/ Frank Dolski

    Thank you Father Joe for your article. I had a dear friend commit suicide and I too believe that our Lord will be the ultimate judge of the consequences of this most grave sin. We do not know someone’s state of mind and only God knows. You really put this topic into perspective and as a country. mankind , people, we all must do whatever we can to help to prevent such instances by encouraging counseling and other intervention through the Holy Spirit.

  • Patricia Fleischhans-Philpot

    Where the movie called “What dreams may come” With Robin Williams in it, it states that if you commit suicide you will not be with your loved ones that you’ll be forever in eternity with no where and in only a place of darkness. I was raised Catholic in the Old Catholic ways and you did not commit suicide if you did you would not be with your loved ones. The movie “WHAT DREAMS MAY COME” I think everyone should watch it. No matter how depressed we get and as much as we want to die, we need to think first what will become of us after and what is going to happen to our family and loved ones when we have departed before our time. I speak from experience I’m one that suffers depression real severe and many times I have thought about my life ending but because of my true belief I will continue on this earth until it is my time because I do want to be with my loved ones when I leave this earth. My heart goes out to those who have taken their life and I wish things could have been so different I do not condemn them my heart goes out to them and I pray God is holding their hands and taking them to the next journey.
    As much as I hate to say this I’m 58 years old and I’ll tell you this world has become so cold, uncompassionate, uncaring, it’s a out about me world now and nobody cares about anyone else… it is no wonder suicide has become the number one killer in america. For all who have taken their lives, may they rest in peace and God be with them always… God Bless

  • Amy B

    I found this article very helpful. I was having a debate with a catholic friend of mine about this just the other day. And she said that suicide is an unforgivable sin. But I don’t remember anywhere in the Bible that states that. So Thank you for clearing this up and now I can point her in the right direction.

    • Jose Madrid

      but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. (Mark 3:29)

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