One of the things that I think fuels the stigma surrounding suicide is the fact that some religious denominations consider suicide to be a sin. While I am not a pastor, priest, rabbi, or any other type of religious leader, academic, or expert, I refuse to believe that a loving God would view suicides that way. The way I see, and the way I pray that God sees it, is that suicides are tragedies, not sins.
Part of the reason I say this is because sin suggests choice, and suicides are not a choice. This is one of the common misconceptions surrounding suicide. Suicide is a fatal symptom of a mind tormented by mental illness. And as with any other fatal symptom of fatal illness, it cannot be said that suicide is truly a choice.
Additionally, we see countless examples of God’s love and forgiveness, especially within the New Testament, where humanity is saved by Jesus. I cannot reconcile such a forgiving and loving God, with one that would further punish a soul tormented by the demons of mental illness.
As this is Suicide Prevention Month, I had said that I wanted to push back against some of the things that stigmatize discussions of suicide, and the fact that some still consider it a sin is a big one, which is why I am tackling it in this week’s Faith and Healing. Compassionate acceptance is what I believe Jesus preaches and is exactly how I think He would react to a suicidal individual. If churches were to mirror that, we could save lives instead of condemning some to suffer and die in silence.
Faith and church has been an important part of my recovery because the churches I’ve found have had such acceptance. My hope is that churches continue to practice what they preach and that those who might be on the edge of their own darkness know that God is always with you, and that there are those out there who will show you the same compassion and acceptance that Jesus taught. And with that mindset and the guidance of God, I pray those who still view suicide as sin can grow to accept it as a tragedy and a terrible loss, but never a sin.