What Does the Bible Teach About Suicide?

A Little Lessons Series

What does the Bible have to say about suicide? Are there some cases of suicide that aren’t sinful? Learn more in this new Little Lessons series!

Picture of woman thinking about suicide

What Does the Bible Teach About Suicide? (Part 1)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

We’re going to talk about a very sobering subject, the subject of suicide. Let me start off by saying, if you’re thinking about committing suicide and that’s why you’re watching this video, please keep watching it. It’s only going to last about eight minutes and then there’s probably going to be a part two that I encourage you to watch as well. But if you’re thinking about it, obviously I’m going to try to talk you out of it, because people who are considering suicide are looking at it as a solution to their problems, and I’m going to say right from the outset that it’s not a good solution in the large majority of cases. Okay?

First of all, it’s an epidemic problem in our world today. It is estimated that in the United States, anywhere from 100 to 120 people every day take their own lives, and about 20 to 30 times more than that make an attempt at taking their own lives. So we don’t know how genuine their attempt was, they might just be very distressed and trying to get someone’s attention and be crying out for help, and so that’s why their suicide attempt was not successful, that they really didn’t want to kill themselves and they were hoping that somehow they’d survive.

Around the world it’s not much different, about 2,200 people every day take their own lives and 20 to 30 times that amount make an attempt. Suicide globally is the second leading cause of death of those between the ages of 15 and 29. And so, it’s a big problem, and our hearts go out to people who are in that frame of mind, where it seems to them that the best solution to what they’re facing is to take their own life.

Those folks are distressed and make no mistake about it, they’re thinking that this is a solution to the crisis, or the problem that they’re facing. Well, what does the Bible have to say about that? Well, of course the Bible never says, “Thou shalt not commit suicide.” But Bible does say, “Thou shall not commit murder,” murder is taking the life of another person, I don’t think technically it’s defined as taking one’s own life.

But for that reason, because God said, “Thou shall not murder,” many Christian teachers and commentators and theologians are quick to say, “Well, suicide is self murder, and so it’s forbidden by God.” Well, I would agree, God doesn’t want anyone to commit self murder, anymore than he wants them to commit what would be more technically defined as murder, the selfish killing of another person. But I’d also want to point out, in some degree of, I think sanity and sympathy, that murder, the taking of someone else’s life, that’s a selfish, horrendous, horrific act, and no one has any right of course to do that, because it’s pure selfishness.

But people commit suicide, they’re not motivated by hatred, normally, for other people, they’re desperate people who can’t see a way out of their situation, and so it’s a solution to them to end their problem. And I’m certain that God has sympathy for those people, and his attitude is not so much of, “Thou shalt not murder,” but, “Oh my goodness, I want to help you to get a different reference, a different frame of mind, a different understanding, so you can see it from a different perspective, so you’re not looking at suicide as a good alternative or a solution to what you’re facing.” Okay?

Scripture does list some people that committed suicide, and for the most case, I think it was like six people altogether, and the majority of those cases are people who knew they were going to die anyways. There was a judge by the name of Abimilech, you can read about him in the ninth chapter of Judges and he wasn’t a good guy, he killed a lot of people unrighteously, just a rotten person.

And in one of his escapades, his exploits of trying to murder some people who had all gathered in a big stone tower, a woman dropped a rock from the top and hit him in the head, and it fatally wounded him. And he said to one of his buddies, “Hey, kill me, run your sword through me,” lest that anyone would go say that a woman killed him. What a pathetic situation right? The last thoughts that you’re having is, “I don’t want people to be saying a woman killed me after I’m dead,” and that’s your primary concern. He should have been saying, “Oh, pray for me, I’m about to die, and God has let this woman kill me, and maybe God is not happy with me, and maybe I better repent and ask his forgiveness.” That’s what people ought to be thinking about.

And let me then add to that, that if, looking at it from what the Scripture has to say, that that’s the big consideration when it comes to suicide. Because the Bible teaches that there is an afterlife, and that we do reap what we sow, and there is the possibility of eternal life and forgiveness, because we’re all sinners, forgiveness through Jesus Christ. But the person who doesn’t die in the state of being forgiven dies in the state of being under the wrath of God, and going into eternity with their sin still on their account.

So you see that, as you consider, is suicide the best option for me, well, for a person who doesn’t have their sins forgiven suicide is not a good option. You’re, you’re jumping out of the frying pan, as it were, into the fire. Because you might think that what you’re facing is overwhelming, but going into eternity without your sins forgiven, and then guaranteed to reap what you’ve sown, that God in his justice is going to repay you exactly what you deserve, so you don’t want to kill yourself, you want to live at least as long as you can to get in a different state with God, a different standing with God that you’d be forgiven. Okay?

So that’s about the most important thing I can say in this first of probably, maybe two or three little lessons on the subject of suicide, if you’re considering suicide, may I ask you, please stop and consider Jesus Christ. The Son of God came to this Earth, became a man, and he lived, and he died, and he came back to life. And he revealed to us a lot about the afterlife, and he has a right to reveal that because he’s the Creator, he’s God. And so, if Jesus is the Son of God, you don’t want to commit suicide, because you know you’re going to stand before him to give an account for your life. And you if you’re going to commit suicide, that’s a good indication that Jesus is not your Lord, you’re not living to serve him. So the final act of your life is a sin, and now you’re going to go stand before him and give an account for all of your sin, okay?

So you don’t want to commit suicide. What you want to do is believe in Jesus and become his follower, and then look to him to help you work through what it is that’s giving you the thought that maybe you should commit suicide. Okay, well, I’m out of time for this Little Lesson, I’ll pick up right here in the next one. I hope to see you then.

What Does the Bible Teach About Suicide? (Part 2)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

What Does the Bible Teach About Suicide part two. Hi, welcome to today’s Little Lesson. We’re talking about a serious subject of suicide. In our last lesson if you didn’t see that stop and go watch that one because that was part one. This is part two and I don’t want to review everything because that uses up valuable time during this little lesson. Okay. But suicide is not the will of God. And if you’re contemplating suicide and most people who are contemplating it are doing that because they think it’s a solution to their problems.

My admonition is that it could get worse after you die. And if Jesus Christ wasn’t a nut job, but if he actually was who he claimed to be and proved he was, the divine Son of God, eternally existing, Creator of the universe, we ought to listen to him. And he made it very plain that after we die we are going to stand before him and give an account of our lives. And, if we don’t die forgiven of our sins then at our judgment we’re going to be repaid for our sins. So, the only way to get forgiven of your sins is to repent of your sins, and believe in Jesus, and then he forgives us. He washes us clean. He makes us into new people. And that’s the solution you ought to be thinking about as you contemplate suicide. It’s a much better solution to your problem.

And let me just say that how much I sympathize with you if you’re thinking about that because I think lots of people who have never committed suicide have thought about it. I’ve thought about it at very low points in my life and as I thought about it and waited, “Is that a good solution?” I came up with the conclusion that it wasn’t a good solution. But most everyone faces tough times in their lives, and they face things that make it seem that ending it all might be a good alternative. And as I mentioned you in the last Little Lesson about 20 to 30 times more people who commit suicide every year attempt to commit suicide but somehow somebody finds them and they’re saved or what they did is not enough to kill them and so forth. They jumped off a bridge and they lived and they swam to shore and said, “Boy that was stupid.” And they don’t try it again. “Boy that was scary.” Or they take pills, and someone finds him, and they take them to hospital and pump their stomach or whatever.

And those people, listen to me now, those people who survive an attempted suicide although they probably have a greater statistical chance of attempting it again I think the large majority of them don’t attempt it again. They think about it a little bit more. And so, what do I mean by that? They’re glad that they didn’t succeed. Okay. All right. So, just think about it.

So, we were talking last time about some of the people in the Bible who committed suicide. The majority of them, there’s only about six or seven total in the Bible, and the majority of them they knew they were going to die. They were mortally wounded. Like Saul, King Saul, remember him, he didn’t finish well. He started good, he didn’t finish well. And the Lord’s wrapping up things in his life and three of his sons are killed in the battle then he’s mortally wounded and he tells his armor bearer to, “Kill me because I don’t want to say that these pagans, these Philistines that are everywhere is going to kill me.” I think his armor bearer was afraid to do it, if I remember the story correctly, and so Saul fell on his own sword. Well, he would’ve been dead anyways a couple of minutes or a couple of hours. So for him, it was an alternative that made some sense.

And there is, of course, an ethical debate going on around the world about assisted suicide where people who want to die go to the doctor and the doctor prescribe something that they can take that will knock them out and then kill them rather painlessly. And I personally don’t believe in general that we have the right to take our own lives. God gave us our lives and so you don’t have the right to take it away. Yet, and maybe a little bit contrary to many other genuine, sincere, respectable followers of Christ and teachers I do think that we ought to be a little more sympathetic to people who have terminal diseases, and are suffering greatly, and it’s inevitable that they’re going to die. And doctors face these kinds of ethical choices and families face these kind of ethical choices all the time here in our country.

Of course we’ve got advanced medicine and people who would have been dead or kept alive for a long, long time and it sometimes cost tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical intervention to keep them alive during a time when the quality of their life is not that great. I mean many older people like myself have signed some kind of a document, a living will, or something and saying, “If you find me passed out on the floor and my heart’s not beating don’t try to get my heart beating again. I don’t want any tubes stuck in me. I don’t want anything to try to bring me back to life. Why? Because, if I didn’t live in this part of the world I wouldn’t have that option anyways. And if I had lived during most of human history, I wouldn’t have that option would I? No.” So, if God’s trying to take me I don’t want to resist him trying to take me through a bunch of machines breathing for me, and pumping my heart, and a bunch of medical specialists.” And God bless those people. Life is precious. Life is precious.

But if you take that which is very common and I think something that is accepted morally and ethically within the Christian community, Bible lovers, Bible believers all over the place agree on that, that there’s times when it’s not right to prolong a life unnecessarily. Well then just you extrapolate a little bit from that and say, “Well, here’s inevitably a person who’s going to die. Who am I to tell that person well you can’t take a pill and end it all.” And again, I’m not saying that I’m encouraging that or that I’m even certain that I’m right about that.

I’m just saying that sometimes everybody, sometimes people have these black and white answers that seem to make sense until you find yourself in a situation where it’s you or it’s your spouse and you have to make a decision about prolonging a life unnecessarily or your own life and so forth. And if you can sign a document that says, “Don’t use any special extraordinary means to keep me alive.” I’m just saying can you take that reasoning and just scoot it forward a little bit in the case of where I’m very close to death and I’m suffering and I’m just causing everybody agony who’s watching me would it be okay to take my own life?

Oh boy. I’ve opened a can of worms. I’m just trying my best. And you may not agree with me but I still absolutely love you and respect other viewpoints. I have more to say on this in the next little lesson. Hope to see you then. God bless you.

What Does the Bible Teach About Suicide? (Part 3)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

What does the Bible teach about suicide? Part three. Hi, welcome to today’s Little Lesson. We have been discussing a very serious subject, that of suicide. And I have the idea that sooner or later, if it hasn’t already happened, somebody who’s contemplating suicide is going to stumble upon this video. And so naturally I’m going to be very sympathetic toward those people. Because people who are contemplating suicide, it seems like a viable good alternative to them. And those who do commit suicide think it’s the best thing they can do. And in so many cases, that’s wrong. We all go through times when we are in the valley, right? And we can’t control all the negative circumstances that happen to everybody at different times, the valleys of our lives. So I sympathize greatly with you, but I’m going to encourage you, hang in there.

If you’re not a believer in Jesus, well, that’s the solution right there. The reason that you’re so distressed, fundamentally, is because you’re out of sync with what God has in general for your life. God’s plan for your life is to believe in Jesus, be his follower, and experience all the blessings of following Jesus. And when you one day die, you go into heaven and possess eternal life. That’s God’s plan for everybody. So if you’re not a Christian and you’re thinking about committing suicide, well, think about becoming a Christian and that’ll solve a lot of problems. It doesn’t solve every problem instantly and so forth, but man, it gives you a whole new perspective and reason to live. And if you are a Christian, if you are a believer in Jesus and you’re considering suicide, well, I sympathize with you as well.

But you know, I think in your heart, you know, that’s not the right thing, right? In general. And again, this is the third of three lessons. I did mention some possible exceptions in the second Little Lesson. Now I want to look at a guy in the Bible who, he didn’t commit suicide, but he was contemplating it. Okay? See if you can identify with this guy. You probably know the story of Elijah and the wicked King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. And Elijah got all the prophets of Baal together up on Mount Carmel, and he did this big test and they put the sacrifice, and the prophets of Baal danced around their sacrifice, asking Baal to send fire. And of course he didn’t. And then Elijah set up his sacrifice, and then poured water over it, drenched it, so nobody can say that he flipped a match over there, and he called on God and fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice on the altar.

And then Elijah killed or had killed the all the prophets of Baal, and he got in big trouble when news reached Ahab and Jezebel, they were after him. So he ran for his life, and imagine if you had the head of state and his wicked wife wanting you dead. That’s a dire circumstance. You might think to yourself, “Yeah, one way out of this is just to kill myself because they’re going to kill me.” And again, I think that’s often when people think about committing suicide. Almost all of the suicides in the Bible, which there are like six or seven, for the most part, they were done by people who were going to die anyways. All right.

So anyways, I’m just cutting into 1 Kings chapter 19, and where it says Elijah was afraid, he arose, he ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah. And he left his servant there, but he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, so he’s getting deep, deep into the desert here to try to disappear. And he came and sat down under a juniper tree and he requested for himself that he might die. And he said, “It is enough now, Oh Lord, take my life for I am not better than my fathers.” So he’s asking God to kill him. He’s not going to kill himself, but he wants to die. So another person of a lesser spiritual devotion than Elijah might have taken this one step further and said, “I think I’ll just kill myself.” All right, but it’s not the right solution. And God sent an angel, and comforted Elijah, and made it very clear, “No, I got a plan for you yet, there’s still more work to be done. And so we’re not going to end it.”

And that’s the thing, that’s why suicide is not a good alternative because if you don’t kill yourself, there’s many days ahead, and circumstances can change. For those who look to God, the Bible is full of stories of circumstances that change because people look to God, and he turned things around. And I’m smiling right now because there have been times in my life where you could have found me weeping and crying and in despair and in darkness and in the valley and contemplating suicide. But I’m so glad I didn’t. I’m so glad I didn’t. I think most people who have contemplated suicide (and it might be everybody to at least to some degree) now at this point in time, if things are going better in their lives, are not thinking about it and they’re glad that they didn’t do it. Okay?

So there’s a lot more waiting for you. And what the tragedy is here is that the second leading cause of death in the world for those between the ages of 15 and 29 is suicide. These are people that have the majority of their life still out ahead of them, but things look so dark and gloomy right now that they’re throwing in the towel, and they’re missing out on all the days that God has ordained for their lives, primarily to find him, discover all of his plan for their lives, and walk in it, and then die naturally of old age, and go into eternity to be welcomed into his eternal kingdom. Okay, so that’s the cool thing. That’s the good thing. And that’s what I’m encouraging you to do if you’re contemplating suicide.

Is it possible for a Christian to commit suicide? Should we conclude that everyone who commits suicide couldn’t have been a Christian? And I would never be so black and white as to say that, because you can be sick in your head just like you can be sick in your body. And I’m not going to be pointing the finger of judgment. I can’t say that definitively. Although I think in general we could say that the person who commits suicide, who claims to be a Christian, probably, they’re definitely not walking in abundant life right at that point in time when they took their own life. But they’ll have to answer for it when they stand before Jesus. And I’m not going to give his verdict, I’ll let him give his verdict. Some are so quick to say, “Well that’s murder.” You know, the self murder.

Well, like I said in the very first Little Lesson, there is a difference. The crime of murder, the sin of murder is motivated by selfishness and anger and hatred of another person. And you solve your problem by killing them, taking them off the planet. Well, this is a little different. I mean, when you’re so distressed, and I’m not giving anyone the allowance to commit suicide, you know that if you’ve watched everything I’ve said, but what I’m trying to say is just bring a little bit of a balance here to those who just, “It’s black and white. If you commit suicide, you go to hell. Because obviously you committed murder, and no murderer has eternal life.”

But again I think God gave us brains to think a little bit here, right? Okay. And you have to admit that there is a difference between the motivation of the person who kills themselves and kills somebody else. Right? Okay. Anyway, there’s hope in Jesus Christ, so don’t even think any longer about taking your life. Seek God, and he cares. He really cares. All right, thanks for joining me on this Little Lesson. God bless you.