Q. Do Those Who Commit Suicide Go To Hell?
Thanks for your note and question.
To be honest, I’ve written quite a bit, and don’t recall the specific article that you are referring to. So, some of what I say will probably be a repetition.
The belief that all people who commit suicide go to hell is held by the Roman Catholic Church, among others, but it is completely without biblical support. There are those saints who wished they had never been born (like Job – Job 3:1, 11; 10:18-19), and there are those who asked God to let them die (like Elijah – 1 Kings 19:4). Jonah did his best to bring about his death (Jonah 1:12; 4:8-9). God never told a suicidal person that they would lose their salvation if they killed themselves. NOWHERE IN THE SCRIPTURES IS IT EVER SAID THAT THOSE WHO COMMIT SUICIDE GO TO HELL. Yes, Judas committed suicide, and he went to hell, but it was because he did not believe in Jesus, but instead betrayed Him, resulting in His death.
We need to start by considering several verses of Scripture:
Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began (Psalm 139:16).
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:28-39).
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
Some might reason that anyone who commits suicide does so because they have lost their faith. It would certainly be true that a Christian who commits suicide has failed to trust God’s hand in suffering, and in His good purposes for suffering:
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29).
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:1-10).
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:3-9).
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you (1 Peter 4:12-14).
In my experience, I have performed at least one funeral for a person who was reading Revelation 21 and 22, and then he put the gun to his head and killed himself. For the believer, there is an added temptation, especially when their life is going badly (at least in their mind). Assured of heaven and that they will enter into the presence of their God, they may choose to “escape” the trials of this life. That would be sin, but it is never identified as the unpardonable sin (see Mark 3:22-30).
And so, suicide is actually a greater temptation for the Christian than it is for the unbeliever, who must deal with this truth:
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
There is no “second chance” for the unbeliever. Suicide seals their fate, and they will go to hell, not because they took their own life, but because they did not believe in Jesus for their salvation.
What I tell folks who are contemplating suicide is that if they do so, they will have to explain to Jesus why they did not trust Him to be with them in the midst of their troubles.
You might also reflect on Psalm 73, and note that the ultimate “good” is experiencing the nearness of God, which often occurs in times of trouble.