By Pastor Susan Young
A difficult question is often asked. How can someone who commits suicide go to heaven?
It is asked based on the Ten Commandments charge that no one should kill. What is the difference between a diabetic who through poor diet and a refusal of a lifestyle change, refuses to change their health and eventually dies? What about the overweight Christian with high cholesterol who eats one more burger and has massive heart attack which kills them? Do we condemn the careless Christian who reads the warning not to step on the top rung of the ladder and does not heed instructions only to fall to their death, or the Christian who suffers from major depression? Did they not all take their own life each in different way?
We tend to have degrees of suicide or rather, forgivable suicides and unforgivable suicides. Does God have mercy on the obese but not the depressed? Or can we determine that his measuring stick is quite different than ours and that he ultimately decides what he forgives and what he doesn’t?
In America today, the average age of suicide is 13-84 years according to Dr. Mark Mayfield LPC. It is the fourteenth leading cause of death among adults in California and third for 10–14-year-olds.
It is imperative that the church begins to address these issues not with a judgment of heaven or hell but with a heart of understanding the true meaning of what it means to lose hope in life. If, in fact, hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12), then the question isn’t how can someone who commits suicide get to heaven? The question becomes how do we, the followers of The Way, help someone restore hope?