Where do they go?
This very uncomfortable question has come up many times during my career in mental health.
Suicide of course, is the worst possible outcome in any mental illness. It creates devastating life long trauma for the loved ones affected. For Christians, suicide raises a very uncomfortable issue that most are afraid to verbalize and no one seems to be discussing. This question torments the minds of friends and family members who are already overwhelmed by grief.
That question, which I have so often been asked is this, “Does suicide automatically condemn a person to eternal punishment?”
I have given this issue considerable thought and the answer in my opinion is clearly no.
In the majority of cases, suicide is the result of a severe and disabling mental illness. Looking at it that way, suicide is the fatal conclusion to what became for that person a terminal mental illness.
Dying from an illness cannot put a person in Hell
I know there are many who would argue with me saying that suicide is murder which always deserves punishment. Others say that the fear of Hell is enough to keep people from committing suicide. I have in fact met many suicidal patients who told me that it was only the fear of Hell that prevented them from a fatal act. Still others will argue that my position will encourage people to suicide as a quick exit to Heaven.
God of course is the ultimate judge of what happens to people after death but my concern is for those left behind. I have seen far too many family members tormented for life with the thought of their mentally ill Christian relatives being punished for eternity as a result of succumbing to an illness.
I want to reassure grieving family members that if the deceased was a believer then a mental illness cannot change their status before God. Though we don’t agree with their actions, they did not commit the unpardonable sin.
If you are grieving today, I hope you will be able to feel the comfort of God wrapping his arms around you and lifting this heavy burden off you.
I have created books, seminars and recordings that will easily explain the diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders from a Christian perspective. You can see links to many of my resources here.
Leadership Q & A
- What is the best church growth strategy?
- Are you burning out?
- Is suicide the unpardonable sin?
- Can a person be too supportive of your ministry?
- Are you afraid of psychiatry?
- What is the unpardonable sin?
- Is fear a sin?
- Is counselling your gift?
- What is the key question to ask?
- Does depression have spiritual symptoms?
- Is your church “seeker friendly?”