I remember the shock and sadness I felt when I heard that Dick, my former roommate in seminary, had taken his life. I knew he had struggled with depression for many years but had no idea he had decided to end his life. He had a mental illness and had been on medication but still made this decision. Is Dick in heaven?
John’s wife had uncovered a recent adultery he’d committed. Though he showed godly sorrow to her and she was willing to work on the marriage with him, the self-condemnation and self-hatred he felt was apparently unbearable. No one had any idea that he would be found dead the next morning from suicide. Is John in heaven?
Jeffrey was confident God was going to come through for him and provide a way for him to stay in his mom’s house. He had a disability and could not work but believed God would make a way. When it didn’t happen and he had to move to a roach infested duplex, his aunt found him slumped over on the couch from an apparent suicide. Is Jeffrey in heaven?
The Bible tells of four who took their own life: the most well-known is Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. (Matthew 27:3-5) King Saul, King of Israel, who was severely injured in a battle. (1 Samuel 31:4-5): Ahithophel, former advisor to King David who had betrayed him. (2 Samuel 17:23). We could also include Samson, though he was also inflicting judgement on the Philistines. (Judges 16:28-30)
Sometimes, people may have fleeting thoughts of suicide but do not act on them. That’s a lot more common than most of us might think, even among Christians. However, many have a death wish, praying God would let them die. In both cases, the sense of hopelessness may make a person more vulnerable to thoughts that Satan may plant in a person’s mind since his goal is to “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:10).
Did you know there were several in the Bible who had a death wish, who prayed God would kill them? They include the great leader Moses (Numbers 11:13-15), Job (Job 6:8-11), Elijah (1 Kings 19:4) , and Jonah (Jonah 4:3-8). The apostle Paul might be included in this number because at one time his suffering was so overwhelming he “despaired of life”. 2 Corinthians 1:8.
The question remains, “Do people who commit suicide go to heaven, especially those who say they are Christians?”
Suicide is a type of murder, a sin, right? Is there any sin too great that Jesus’ death on the cross is insufficient to pay the penalty for it? Colossians 2:13 tells us, “13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.“
How many of our sins were in the future when Jesus died for them? All of them, of course, including suicide. I quoted all of those verses to show that God did two things for us that destroyed Satan’s power of death over us, that is any death that would send a person who dies for any reason to hell. In Christ, we are made spiritually alive because Jesus our life comes to live in us. In Christ, we are forgiven for our past, present and future sins. Of course, this in only true for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
The truth is that anyone who is in Christ when they die, for any reason including suicide, does go to heaven. Suicide cannot thwart God’s grace in Jesus Christ!
There are those who might wonder about Scriptures like Colossians 1:22-23, though. “22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel…” The idea here is that anyone who is genuinely in Christ will continue to believe Jesus is their Savior no matter what sins they may commit. Is suicide then a certain evidence that a person stopped believing in Jesus as their Savior? No, it isn’t. So unless we know for certain that a person has denied Jesus Christ as their Savior, we can be confident that person is in heaven.
If you have a friend or a family member who committed suicide, be assured that everyone in Christ who dies for any reason is in heaven. If you are having suicidal thoughts and feel like your life is hopeless, don’t commit suicide. There is always hope in Christ and many people want you to be in their life! We’ve shared the life-giving power of God with many who have a death wish or who have suicidal thoughts through our discipleship counseling. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is available to you at 1-800-273-8255 or you may chat with them. Please also make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your suicidal thoughts.