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Let’s Move On

The following excellent article about suicide is by Fred Mayberry, evangelist for the Fairview church of Christ in Fairview, TN.

Over 25,000 Americans commit suicide each year. Over one million will try but only one out of fifteen will succeed. Suicide is the tenth highest killer in the U. S. More will die by suicide than by murder. Men kill themselves twice as often as women, but women attempt suicide twice as often as men. There are over 5,000 suicides among teenagers each year. Some 10,000 college students will attempt suicide in a year. Suicide is the second highest cause of death among young people aged 15-24, surpassed only by accidents. Thirteen young adults each day consider life not worth living. This past week I have been asked by a number of people what does the Bible say about suicide.

(Ecclesiastes 7:17) "Do not be a fool — why die before your time?" Almost everyone in their right mind would agree that life is the most precious gift that human beings have been given. Especially for Christians, just the chance to be alive on this earth and play a part in the grand scheme of God's eternal plan is a privilege indeed. Yet, despite this, there are times when life becomes so difficult or unbearable that many have, at one time or another, wished they were dead or had never been born. For some, these feelings linger — and if they linger long enough, suicide seems to be the only escape. What does the Bible say about suicide? How does God view it? Do all those who kill themselves go to Hell? Very few would argue the fact that suicide is a direct breaking of the Sixth Commandment which is, "You shall not murder." We are not to murder each other or ourselves. God created human beings in His image and each of us carries within us the potential to overcome evil in this world and to rule and reign with Christ in heavenly places. If we are Christians, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to God. We are overseers of our bodies and our lives, (which belong to Him), and we are responsible to guard that which has been entrusted to us. Suicide is a grievous sin that seriously hurts both the heart of God, and those who loved the deceased. The pain of losing a loved one who took their own life is not easily healed, and often isn't fully healed until Heaven. Many of the greatest saints and heroes of the Bible faced overwhelming depression and sometimes wrote that they wished they had never been born. King David, (Psalm 13:2-4) the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14-18), and Job (Job 7:15-16) among others, all reached low points where they despaired of their very lives. Job says, "So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. I loathe it; I would not live always: let me alone: for my days are vanity" (Job 7:15-6). Yet each of these men were blessed of God, and persevered through their trials as an example to us. Though they faced great suffering and injustice, they kept their faith in God and His goodness and in so doing, were sustained and led into abundant life.

Do all those who kill themselves go to Hell? Some people believe that all who commit suicide go immediately to Hell. However, the Bible never says if this is the case. The Bible is silent on this issue. God probably did not address it in black and white for a good reason. If we knew that we would still go to Heaven if we killed ourselves, there would probably be a lot more suicides taking place than there are now. However, if we knew that all that killed themselves were automatically banished to Hell, no matter what their situation, it might be too much for the grief-stricken family and friends to bear. The bottom line is only God knows what is going through a person's mind at the time of suicide. Were they just looking for a way out, or was it the adverse effect of some medication they were on at the time, or did something just snap in their brain? Even the smartest of doctors will tell you that we just don't understand all there is to know about the brain. We have all witnessed a dramatic change in character of individuals who have Alzheimer's. Sometimes it is a very slow process, sometimes it happens more quickly, but we all wonder what happened to the make their character change so rapidly. It is not up to us to judge, only God knows the answer. So, we will leave the judgement in the hands of a just God.

Keep thinking good thoughts for a better tomorrow!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ