What is the Church’s belief on Suicide? A Catholic friend of mine recently took his own life and his wife and child asked me what our church believed is his fate. Their Priests said because he took his own life he was going to hell. How can I help this family?
Michael, from Washington
In the first place, I believe that the only way that you could help your Catholic friend in such a circumstance as this is to have the missionaries teach him the truth about heaven and hell, about the three degrees of glory, and about the loving mercy of our Father in Heaven in providing all the blessings for His children that they are capable of receiving. The deep grieving of the adherents of the secular religions over what appears to be the tragic loss of loved ones is understandable in view of their mistaken beliefs of the nature of God and man, and of the great plan of salvation.
Concerning the Church’s view on suicide, Let me quote from a message of the First Presidency–
“There is another evil that is growing amongst the peoples of the world that is not unfelt amidst the Latter-day Saints. It is the crime of self-murder. Suicide should be made odious among the people of God, it should be emphasized as a deadly sin, and no undue feelings of tenderness toward the unfortunate dead, or of sympathy towards the living bereaved, should prevent us denouncing it as a crime against God and humanity, against the Creator and the creature. It is true that the exact enormity of the act is not defined with minute detail in the Holy Scriptures, or the limits of its punishment given; but to believers in the God whom we worship it has always been regarded as a sin of great magnitude” (James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.3, p.88 – p. 89.)
And from President Spencer W. Kimball–
“Suicide is no escape. Suicide can only add another great crime to those already committed. It cannot alleviate any distress but can double or treble or quadruple it. It does not postpone the day of retribution nor of sorrow very long, for one plunges immediately from time into eternity, from mortality into the spirit world, and he goes with all his faculties, his mentality, his attitudes, his weaknesses, and his strengths” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.187.)
Withall, we should be careful in making judgment. While we can easily differenciate between righteous and unrighteous actions, we may not always be in a position to judge if a person is responsible for his actions. We read in Samuel that
“The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7.)