People all around the world struggle with mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, and Christians are not exempt from going through these experiences. The friends sitting next to you during church sermons, the people in your Bible study, and even your church leaders could all be hiding their emotional pain. You are not alone in your struggles of suicidal thoughts, and it is much more prevalent than you realize. Depression is a common illness, affecting one in five people at some point in their lives, and it’s something that people have been battling against since the beginning of time. The Bible speaks about suicide on several occasions, and shares stories of those who also struggled with mental illness.
Bible Characters That Committed Suicide
The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, because it is considered self-murder. God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die, because He is the giver of life. We should say with the psalmist, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15). No one should try and take their life because it is an attempt to take over His role.
Some consider Samson’s death an instance of suicide, because he knew his actions would lead to his death (Judges 16:26–31), but Samson’s goal was to kill Philistines, not himself. There are only six specific people who committed suicide: Abimelech, Saul, Saul’s armor-bearer, Ahithophel, Zimri, and Judas.
Five of these men were noted for their wickedness, the exception being is Saul’s armor-bearer. Nothing was said of his character. 1 Sam. 31:5 says “When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him.” The armor-bearer was so hurt by event that just happened in front of him, he impulsively took the opportunity to do the same. King Saul took his life right before his armor-bearer. 1 Sam. 31:3-4 says “The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.’ But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.” He was in fear of what his enemies would do to him after he was captured, and took matters into his own hands.
King Saul wasn’t the only one afraid of the enemy. Zimri was an evil king in Isreal, and he, too, had issues with accepting his own fate. He refused to be captured after a great war, and burned the castle down with himself inside rather than face his own enemy (1 Kings 16:15-20). Judges 9:50-55 shares the story of Abimelech, another king that ruled over Israel. He was also known for being cruel and took the lives of many around him, including his own family members. God sent a woman to stop him, and she injured him greatly. Abimelech didn’t want to be known as the king who was killed by a woman, so he took his own life before she was able to finish the job.
Ahithophel was a former friend of David. He supported David’s son, Absalom, in his rise against the king, and offered counsel to Absalom on how to defeat David’s army. Ahithophel’s advice was not taken, though, and it caused Ahithophel to go into shock. In 2 Samuel 17:23 it says that Ahithophel “put his house in order, and then hanged himself” over the incident.
Judas is the most known story of suicide in the Bible, because of its relationship to Christ. Judas was a disciple of Chris, and he turned against Christ and betrayed him. He felt in an immense about of guilt after his actions, and ultimately it let him to the choice of choosing suicide rather than ask for forgiveness from the Lord (Matthew 27:3-4).
Bible Characters That Found Hope
Some people in scripture felt deep pain in life. Solomon, in his pursuit of happiness, reached the point where he “hated life” (Ecclesiastes 2:17). Elijah was fearful and depressed and yearned for death (1 Kings 19:4), and Jonah was so angry at God that he wished to die (Jonah 4:8). Even the apostle Paul and his missionary companions at one point “were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
However, none of these men committed suicide. Solomon learned to “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Elijah was comforted by an angel, allowed to rest, and given a new commission. Jonah received admonition and rebuke from God. Paul learned that, although the pressure he faced was beyond his ability to endure, the Lord can bear all things: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
Christians Can Turn to God When in Pain
The stories of suicide in the Bible are heartbreaking, because they all have one thing in common: their lives did not have to end that way. There are countless times in the Bible where God shares that He can be a shoulder to lean on and a light for those in the dark. Even in our depression, we have to force ourselves to try and find the help we so desperately need. God is one of the great avenues we can find peace.
If you are a believer you can rest assured that God’s love is unfailing and He will deliver us in the days of pain and suffering (Psalm 130:7). He gives us the gift of hope (Psalm 119:49), and He know what great life we have ahead of us (Jeremiah 29:11). These are just some of the verses where you can find everlasting hope with the Lord.
Many believe that suicide means that the person will not ever enter into Heaven, but that is not necessarily true. Some believe that because a person cannot ask for specific forgiveness after suicide that it will automatically send the person to hell. But there are many sins that may never be confessed before our death. For example, one Christian may ask for forgiveness every morning from God. But say they get into an unexpected car wreck during the day, but had lied earlier to a friend. They are still believers in Christ and will go to heaven.
The Bible is clear that when we are in Christ, nothing will separate us from Him, not even death. Romans 8:38-29 says “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”