Suicide, Heaven, and Eternal Destiny

Is there any hope in the world to come for those who take their own lives? Our entire extended family is reeling under a horrendous burden of pain, guilt, and confusion. My nephew – a college-bound high school senior, honor student, accomplished athlete, and respected leader of his church youth group – recently committed suicide. In addition to our grief, which is nearly overwhelming, we're struggling with agonizing questions about the fate of this young man's soul. Somewhere I heard that suicide is an "unforgivable sin," and that those who kill themselves have no chance of getting into heaven. Is that true?

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Our hearts go out to you. It’s obvious that you’re hurting deeply. Before getting into doctrinal questions, we want to encourage you and the rest of your family to do everything possible to stop the bleeding and bind up your wounds. Your first concern should be to take deliberate steps to keep yourselves from falling into an even darker pit of despair and self-blame. Your friends at Focus on the Family are available to help you navigate that journey.

We suggest you begin by telling one another that your nephew’s death was not your fault. Do this over and over again if necessary. Then, if you think it might be helpful, feel free to call and discuss your feelings with a member of our team. Focus on the Family has a staff of pastoral counselors who would love to speak with you over the phone.

You may also find it worth your while to seek the help of others who have walked this path before you. There are several reputable organizations and ministries that offer support groups for parents and family members of suicide victims. For further information, see the Web sites of the following groups:
SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education);
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry;
The American Association of Suicidology; and
The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program. It’s important to fight any tendency you may have to withdraw into yourselves and “clam up” about the terrible thing that has happened to your family.

That said, we’ll return to the question you’ve raised. Theologically speaking, suicide is a difficult and thorny problem. Down through the centuries, discussions of this subject have given rise to a wide variety of opinion. Equally committed believers and equally astute biblical scholars have come to different conclusions. It isn’t hard to see why. Everyone can agree that suicide is a sin, since it clearly involves the unauthorized taking of a human life. But is this particular sin qualitatively different from any other sin? Is it somehow ineligible to come under the healing and redeeming power of Jesus’ death on the cross? That’s where the rub comes.

Some Christians have said yes. They have argued that the act of ending one’s own life is an unforgivable sin. Why? Because it leaves no opportunity for repentance. And repentance is generally understood to be a necessary precondition of forgiveness. As you and your relatives know all too well, this line of reasoning is anything but reassuring to families impacted by suicide.

Fortunately, there is another way of looking at it. Many theologians contend that, for a believer, the atoning efficacy of Christ’s blood covers every sin and every mistake he or she has ever committed or ever will commit. That includes past, present, and future. This can be a comforting reflection in the case of suicide victims who, like your nephew, are known to have been faithful and dedicated followers of Jesus.

We aren’t in a position to tell you which of these two opinions is correct. That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself. But we can say this much: the Scriptures state plainly that God’s grace and mercy are beyond our understanding. They declare that His judgments are unsearchable and past all finding out (Romans 11:33). They also assure us that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord – “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing” (Romans 8:38, 39). That, as far as we’re concerned, is the bottom line where your nephew is concerned. If you have any doubts about that aspect of the question, we hope you won’t hesitate to call our staff counselors.

 

Resources
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Aftershock: Help, Hope and Healing in the Wake of Suicide

Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Victims and Survivors of Suicide

Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One’s Search for Comfort, Answers & Hope

Standing in the Shadow: Help and Encouragement for Suicide Survivors

Suicide (resource list)

Referrals
Alive to Thrive

GriefShare

New Hope Telephone Counseling Center 1-714-NEW-HOPE (639-4673)

Articles
Healthy Grief

Coping With Death and Grief

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.