Suicide Is NOT a Solution
This past Monday, a brother and friend of mine ended his own life. I had not spoken to him in some time, we had drifted apart only communicating every few months, but still every time we spoke we seemed close. It is a good memory to remember all the old party days of our youth, and all of the time that we had spent together. We would raise our beers and say: “we would be brothers forever.” What had happened? What was going through his mind that he felt his only recourse was to take his own life?
I was told that he was struggling with some inner demons, and he must have felt such great despair that he could not reach out. This makes me very angry, but, nonetheless my feeling of loss for my brother is a great burden. I asked myself questions like: What more could I have done? Could I have reached out? Why didn’t he call one of his brothers and reach out for help? And, the two questions I struggled with most these past few days is: What is going to happen to him? Will God remember him in heaven or is suicide a sin that cannot be forgiven?
Do Not Fear
As I contemplated these things, and asked myself these questions I spoke to a very close friend of mine, one of my spiritual guides who has helped me throughout the years. He asked me what I thought about suicide, to which I gave a half-hearted: “I’m not sure.” Then he reminded me of Jesus’ words in the book of Matthew chapter 10: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Killing the Body
We are not to fear anyone that can kill our bodies, which include ourselves. We have the freedom to commit suicide. Satan fills our minds and hearts with so much dread, depression and longing that we all feel that we are going to kill ourselves, and sometimes the power of evil is so great that we are compelled to finish the task. However, those individuals did not destroy the soul, they only destroyed the body. God is merciful, and God has complete understanding. Some people who get to the point in their lives that they cannot reach out, that they feel abandoned and they feel so alone are in desperate trouble because Satan will do anything in his power to make sure that the person does not pull themselves out from that very dark place. He wants you to struggle, he wants you to suffer and he wants you to do evil and sometimes we, in desperation, depression and agonizing loneliness take our own lives.
Destroying the Soul
Well, with that being said, the body can be destroyed by human means, but we cannot destroy the soul. We who kill ourselves only destroy the body, but it is the Lord and the Lord only who can destroy the soul. However, He is not one who goes around destroying people’s souls. His desire is to bring us up out of death and bring us home into His Kingdom. One of the greatest misconceptions of this life is that once we die, then those who are wicked go down into hell and are forgotten—that is farthest from the truth. All of mankind has the living breath of God; we all were created from the dust and intertwined with His breath—with His Spirit—why would God destroy His own Spirit? We as Orthodox Christians remember the dead, and we continue to pray for their souls to find mercy and well being. Of course they are no longer alive, but nothing stops us from continuing to pray and send up our supplications to the One who can destroy the soul.
The Intents of the Heart
In every situation, we are held accountable for our actions—and one day we will be judged by our choices. In my thinking, suicide is no greater sin than any other. God will judge the intent of the heart of the individual who is doing this self-inflicted act of violence.
But, before I go on, let me say that suicide is wrong no matter what is going on or how we are feeling. We are taking the place of God when we decide to place our lives in our own hands. The wake of suffering we cause when we decide to kill ourselves is great, and the act of suicide in itself is a selfish and cowardly way out. We end things for ourselves, but the pain we inflict on our families, our friends and loved ones is something we do not take in account when committing suicide. We have not ended the pain we are feeling, we only bring that pain to the forefront of everyone’s mind. The pain the person was feeling in now amplified by inflicting that pain onto many others.
My brother, my friend, committed suicide and even though I am sad and sorrowful—I am more angry then anything. I am angry at the fact that he took the path of least resistance. I am angry that he did not reach out for help. I am angry that he was selfish in his choice. But, with that being said, I am sad because I no longer have him in my life.
What was going on through his mind that he could not, and would not reach out for help? Sometimes, the power of the evil one’s hold over us is so great that we follow his lead—we end our own lives. I know I have felt the urge to take my own life, and anyone who says that they have not felt the urge to commit suicide is a liar. It may have been a single thought or it may have been many thoughts throughout a span of time—but, we all have had those thoughts. Satan’s task is to make God suffer through inflicting pain on His creation—on God’s very breath. Satan is the father of lies and deceit. He studies us, he takes time to watch us and he prepares his assaults with precision tactics that sometimes leads to suicide. Some of us are not strong enough in our lives, and are not in the position in our lives to resist such a deceitful and scheming foe such as Satan. Sometimes man is so far from the reaching hands of God, that we are found lost, broken and in pain. But the truth is, is that we never are out of reach of God’s love—but, the illusion that Satan puts forth tell us so. The mind is our greatest weapon—for and against us. God judges the intent of the heart at all times in our lives—even when we commit suicide. He will look at what was on our mind and He will judge us according to our state of mind. God is merciful and understanding in everything. Every choice, every action, every word that proceeds from our mouth will be judged and measured against the intents of our heart.
I Am Not the Judge
We are to fear only the One who can destroy the soul and the body. We are to fear only God. God is love and perfect love casts out fear, and remember in Greek perfect means whole: whole love casts our fear. We cannot say who will enter the gates of the Kingdom and who will not. We are not God. God will judge the intents of the heart with impartiality and justice. He will weigh and measure every action and choice as a wise and perfect Judge. He will look at our crimes and He will measure it against His will. But, we should not fear, we have an Advocate that came to earth and paid the price for all our sins. Jesus will stand beside us before the Father and will help us plead our cause. God struggles within Himself in the judgment of mankind because He wants to see ALL of His creation saved and with Him in Heaven.
We cannot say God will send those who have committed to eternal damnation, but we can say that God will look at the mind and the intents of the heart. He is the one and only impartial judge of our souls.
I find great comfort in the fact that God is merciful AND understanding. I fail every day. I sin every day. I have evil thoughts every day. But I also keep trying to become a better man and Christian. I am far from perfect, and I would we happy with a few crumbs from the Master’s table—but, God wants more for us. He wants to give us the mansion built for us. He wants to bring us to that place where there are no more tears and no more suffering. I am praying that God will have mercy on my brother’s soul, and will judge his heart. My brother was a good man. I loved him deeply and I will miss him.
Reach Out For Help
If anyone reading this and is thinking about suicide, STOP AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING. There IS someone who loves you out there. There IS someone who will miss you. You WILL cause your family and loved ones great pain and suffering because of their great love for you, even if you do not see it when you demand it. Learn to love yourself first and then love others around you. Whatever you are going through is no reason to take matters into your hands to such a finality. We will pray for you. We will love you! The struggle within, I know and understand is a real and constant struggle. I myself have had great turmoil and have had to find reasons to keep on going…but, I always have found a reason to keep on going – hope… a better tomorrow… a chance at something better coming my way. I find myself not wanting to disappoint God, my family or friends. I want to honor them when I die, I want them to remember me the way I was.
Suicide does not solve any problems. Suicide only adds problems to the lives of those around you—the people who love you, care about you and you create an emptiness in those you were on the track to meet in your tomorrows. Most of all, you are never alone because of the love Christ has for you. Seek Him out. Look for Him and He is there. The answers are there and I hope that you will reach out for help. Visit a local church and talk to a priest, talk to a friend, a family member – just reach out, keep connecting with others - we've all been in situations that we feel oppressed by and we can't seem to see a clear answer, there is an answer you just don't see it yet – call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (in the US).
Grace and peace to you my brother, I love you much!
In Loving Memory:
Curtis L. Richardson,
August 9th 1975- April 9th 2012