My high school friend Rochelle posed the question in response to this quote by another FB friend, Minna,
"Suicide may not mean that someone wants to die, it may mean they no longer have the strength or endurance to live."
The main answer to the question, "Do people who commit suicide go to Heaven?" is, I don't know but I do know the Bible says very little about it, other than Judas (Matthew 27), who had bigger problems than suicide, like betraying the Creator of the Universe, which is the only sin which there is NO forgiveness for. Like jumping off a cliff when you defy gravity there are natural consequences, here Judas violated universal laws. Ok, now to the response.
@Rochelle, like a drunkard, adulterer, or murderer the Bible has issues with particular sins that should be put to death (e.g. Deuteronomy and Leviticus) or their actors "will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:8-10*)." Folk got in trouble with God for collecting manna on the Sabbath (Exodus 16) . So, we have to put this in context. Only the DIVINE can judge us, not those of us here on this Earth. Like the Sinner on the cross (Luke 23:37-45), even at the 9th hour it may be just in time or too late. For us to speculate on this side of life can make us crazy in the midst of our grief. There are many factors that bring about suicide, fratricide, homicide, and often many of these are suicide by another name (e.g. "Loc'd out gang-banging, death by cop, eating sugar knowin' you got diabetes, drank herself to death" etc). Some folk see no way out because others have made life unbearable for them. The man in prison who is raped. The child who is abused. The woman who is in a male-dominated country and rather than face an unjust punishment for "adultery" liked being stoned or burned, she takes a poison pill. The main issue is that it is an ILLNESS in self and/or society that brought on the suicidal thoughts, not simply a choice.
It has been said, that in Africa, if a person wanted to commit suicide they would have to go visit their parents, grandparents, and try to ask their "dead" ancestors' blessings before actually going through with the act. In an idealized setting where pain is shared, the idea is there should be enough understanding and acceptance to bring the person back into alignment with the community. In rare cases, famine, ongoing war etc the death may be "blessed by the elders."
Suicide is about a disintegration with society. In other words, a person must find meaning within their own society. Right now, in Louisiana the BP oil spill has increased the suicide rate because people are at a loss to find meaning in their lives. The worse part about BP is that it is a man-made disaster part of which, perceived or not, could have been prevented. People tend to come together around natural tragedies but not as much due to man made disasters, especially one's that should not have happened. http://www.npr.org/2010/12/01/131694848/bp-spill-psychological-scars-similar-to-exxon-valdez
So on the surface, folks may want to die or not have the endurance but underneath the world as the person knows it is not accepting or meaningful for that person. Sadly, in my opinion, to say a person does not have a chance in Heaven may have been meant to deter suicidal thoughts and actions, but it may spur a person on if they have done something that they perceive puts them outside of the community. In this industrial and information age our communities are more varied and fractured even though there is some hope. For example, for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Questioning youth, they are 8X's more likely to commit suicide than "straight" youth. Why, because if they get the impression that their family and religious community no longer accepts them life ceases to have meaning beyond what they know. That is why the "It Gets Better Campaign" is so valuable. See this website for more info on LGBTQ suicidal issues: http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/library/record/2624.html?state=research&
Some folk ARE definitely tired. Music, other spiritual expressions, and/or community can help to renew a person's spirit and revive their soul. The book by Dr. Viktor Frankel, a Jewish Psychiatrist on Logo Therapy, which is about finding meaning in the darkest of places (e.g. in a WW2 Nazi concentration camp), may help folk to harness this power when they are down. The Blues from the Jim Crow era does this for me as well as gospel recordings and arrangements from that same era. To me the gospel music and the blues are two parts of the same whole life on this Earth.
So, Rochelle to answer your question, where we go depends on whether or not we have God's permission to come "home". The Bible does not specifically say but we can KNOW our relationship with God, thus God alone will judge us. For now, folk need to stop being so hard on themselves and each other. We must continue to seek out community as well as positive and meaningful expressions of our pain. We also must continue to find a way to help others. I hope that makes sense. Whatever I got right here is from the Creator and what I got wrong is my own blindness.
p.s. For those that read this message, know you are NOT alone in your pain. Whether from; depression-which distorts our ability to see positive connections in our lives, rejection-which takes us from our sense of meaning in our communities, or tragic situations-which we can not explain thus causing more pain we can all use help. Sometimes the answer to prayer or meaning may begin with a talk with a mental health professional. In any case, please reach out.
Also, here is a link to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
* regarding 1 Cor. 6 or Gal. 5 think about the molestation of children and rape of people in prison or other settings, these folk are not going to enter the Kingdom of God. In Paul's time there were ritualistic pedophiles and slave/master abuses. I am not trying to the use the Bible to condemn anyone only to show that the Bible is open to interpretation and as Luke 18:16 talks about, unless we become like children, similar to the African notion of suicide I mentioned we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. John 18:36 reminds us God's Kingdom is NOT of this world, so let us not get bogged down with the Earth only.
7/12/2017 03:52:12 pm
Interesting and thought provoking. I'll keep my thoughts to myself on this one...I do appreciate the time and effort put into your take on the question at hand. Well done.
4/9/2023 01:15:06 pm
Thanks greaat blog
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