It seems like I have been bombarded with phone calls and emails from people asking the same question — “Does a person who commits suicide go to heaven or to hell?” This is a legitimate question, but for far too long, it has been answered with the WRONG answer. Sadly, many well-meaning Christians have suggested that suicide is an unforgiveable sin, punishable by an eternity in hell.
This teaching comes from the Roman Catholic belief that forgiveness is contingent on confession. Since suicide cannot be followed by confession, many people believed that the sin is unforgiveable. Please hear me say, THERE ARE NO SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THIS TEACHING!
The Bible tells us that the punishment for sin is death. It also tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all guilty before God. Our sin separates us from God and keeps us from going to heaven.
The Good News is that God loves us so much that He made a way to restore our relationship with Him. He knew that no matter how hard we tried, we would never be holy and perfect. So God sent His only Son, Jesus, down to earth to live a perfect life. Jesus is the only perfect who ever lived who was without sin. Jesus died on the cross for our sin – He took the penalty for our sin.
Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of sin. The only way anyone goes to heaven is through faith in Jesus. No where does the scripture imply that this applies to all sin, except for suicide. The Bible teaches that where a person goes after death depends on their relationship with Christ, not on the way that they die.
Before I get lots of angry hate mail, I do want to clarify that suicide is a sin. The Ten Commandments give the command, “Do not kill.” Suicide is a breach of this commandment. It is wrong. When a person dies, he will give an account for his sins on earth. We will be held accountable for our actions and suicide is not pleasing to God. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
So, how do we answer the question, “When a person dies by suicide, do they go to heaven or to hell?” It depends. If during life the person placed his faith in Christ, then he is in heaven. If he did not, he is in hell.
This should give great comfort to those who are left behind. I have no doubt that Michael is in heaven today, because he trusted in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The Bible teaches that nothing can snatch us out of God’s hand once we have received eternal life. “Nothing” means exactly that – if we belong to Christ, not even suicide can separate us from His love and grace.