Teaching Our Kids And Grandkids About Suicide

Teaching Our Kids And Grandkids About Suicide

The suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams several days ago has led to a number of people asking me just what the Bible says about suicide.  Here are the things we need to know about suicide and share with our children and grandchildren so they can look at suicide in the light of God’s Word.  

First, Only God has the right to take or end life. In Deuteronomy 32:39 the Lord says, “See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life…”


Suicide is therefore forbidden by God because it usurps God’s role, it is a selfish act that causes grief and pain to others, and it sends the wrong message that the way to deal with adversity is not to hold to God’s promises and persevere by the power of his grace and word, but to take matters into your own hands.


People have said about Robin WIlliams: “At least he is not suffering anymore, he is not struggling with his demons anymore.”  The truth is that a person who commits suicide in unbelief is in hell and suffering far more than they did on earth.  In John 3:36, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”


However, clinical depression may lead a person to commit suicide when it goes against their faith and desire as Christians to follow God’s will and trust his grace.  A seminary professor told me about a member of his when he was in the parish who suffered from severe clinical depression.  This man told my professor, “Pastor, I want you to know that if I ever commit suicide it doesn’t mean that I rejected Jesus or my faith; it is just that sometimes these feelings of hopelessness and the pain inside are so oppressive that I don’t know if I will be hold out against them.”  Had this man committed suicide, charitable empathy about his struggles and appreciation of the mercy of God in our weakness would lead us not to rush to judgment about his eternal destiny.


Some have said that the problem with suicide is that it does not leave a person time to repent. I think we need to be careful about saying that, as such a statement can make it appear that repentance is: 1) Merely a sporadic act and, 2) The trigger for God’s forgiveness.


Repentance does not trigger God’s forgiveness. God forgives us not because we repent, but because Jesus has paid for our sins.  “You have been set free from sin…” (Romans 6:18) Forgiveness is not given out bit by bit in response to our repenting, but given to us freely and fully for all our sins at our baptism. (Acts 2:38: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”)


Repentance is also not a sporadic act. In his 95 theses, Luther said that the entire life of believers is one of repentance.  That is because God works a whole new life of repentance and faith in us at our baptism.  “We were…buried with him (Christ) through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4).  By the power of the Spirit, we “offer ourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life.” (Romans 6:13)


So a repentant person will not want to commit suicide and will fight that impulse (as mentioned above, perhaps not always successfully; no more than you are I fight all temptations successfully); but on the other hand, we need to be careful about saying that a person who committed suicide went to hell because they did not leave themselves with an opportunity to repent and then be forgiven.


Our kids need to know that suicide is never the answer.  It is a lie of the devil that suicide is a viable option when I am deeply saddened or disappointed, overwhelmed, weighed down by guilt, or feeling that I have no hope.  In the great love of Christ for us and in his reliable promises to us we find strength to persevere through our hardships.  We teach our kids that not only with our words, but also by our example as we trust Jesus and his word in hardships as the apostle Paul did:


2 Corinthians 1:8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.


Pastor Kurt Ebert lost a son to suicide and wrote about it in the Forward In Christ magazine.  You can follow the links below to access his articles from September-December, 2012.  Next week we will discuss what to say and do if a child or other loved one talks about wanting to die or ending their life.


The Night the Tears Began


Blessed Lessons out of Grief #1


Blessed Lessons out of Grief #2


Blessed Lessons out of Grief #3


Blessed Lessons out of Grief #4