My friend Ben Schone has left us as of April 7, 2009. I guess when someone you love goes in such a tragic way; it is always scary, haunting, and shocking. As I think about his death I really want to get some ideas out. I’m writing this mostly because I feel like many people will be asking questions that pertain to this and also because it is helpful for me to write it.
When someone commits suicide do they go to hell? First of all to be completely honest, I don’t know. I cannot give an answer to that question no matter who the person is or how they die. What I can give an opinion on is according to my faith, does someone who commits suicide go to hell because of the act itself. My thoughts…suicide does not mean that someone will go to hell.
The idea that suicide is a damnable sin has come from the idea that life is to be valued and that we submit our lives to our creator. It’s thought that when someone commits suicide that they are in fact, by their actions, saying “screw you God, I don’t trust you with my life” and then ending their life. In this way the person would be defiant and turning their back on God.
For any of us who have lost someone in this manner, I highly doubt that this is ever the case. Usually, from my experiences in life, suicide is someone feeling overwhelmed with emotions and circumstances and finding themselves not able to deal with them through typical coping skills. Chemical imbalance is much more often the cause of someone ending their own life, not someone being defiant of God.
A second part of the idea that if you commit suicide you are going to hell comes from the fact that it is a sin to take a life even you own and so if it’s your last act, you aren’t able to receive forgiveness and would be damned. I strongly disagree with this as well. God isn’t limited by our mistakes. Imagine if you were falling off of a cliff on accident and on the way down cursed God out of loose lips as you were panicking on the way down. It’s a sin to take God’s name in vein; do you think you would go to hell? I certainly don’t think that God’s ultimate judgment of my life would have anything to do with a slip of the tongue being my final act before death. Neither do I believe that doing something as harmful as suicide as your final act would lead to damnation.
I guess I’m saying all of this to ease people’s minds and to hopefully help us to focus on what I believe we should focus on when someone that we love passes. I believe we must focus on moving through our sadness and cherishing the life of the one who has passed. To take what that person has meant to us and be sure that it never dies in us. Make sure that the person lives on in the way that we live, love, and relate to others. May the beauty and wonder of our friend Ben Schone live on in us.