Jesus, Forgiveness, and Suicide

The other day, while counseling students at the school after the tragic and unfortunate suicide of Dalton Skeens, I was asked whether a person could go to heaven who committed suicide.  This is a much more exhaustive answer to that question.

The Bible does not address the subject of suicide directly.  

First, I will start by debunking a false idea that floats around.  Sometimes suicide gets labeled as the unforgivable sin (Mark 3:22-30, Matthew 12:22-32).  "Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" [Mark 3:29 (ESV)].  The context shines light on what this means.  After Jesus healed a demon-possessed man, the Scribes and the Pharisees who were out to get him claimed that Jesus was in league with Satan.  Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is to claim that an act that you know is from God is from Satan.  The unforgivable sin has nothing to do with suicide.  
I like what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on suicide.
Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance (2280-2283a).
In the end, the only thing that prevents people from going to heaven is not knowing Jesus.  It seems kind of strange, but it's like going to an invitation-only party without the invitation.  Hopefully, the guy that invited us will be at the door, but we don't know that he will be.  We have all been invited, but we need to bring the invitation.  

But it's more significant than that.  Jesus claimed to be "the way, and the truth, and the life."  He followed that up by saying, "No one comes to the Father except through me" [John 14:6-7 (ESV)].  It is through him that we receive forgiveness of our sins.  At the very core of the message of Jesus is that we are all sinners.  This sin separates us from the presence of God because God is holy and only allows the purified into his presence.  God became flesh in the form of Jesus to show us how to live and offer the perfect sacrifice for our sins that when accepted, covers our filthiness in holiness.  We accept that forgiveness through giving our life over to him.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is worth living for.
Jesus taught, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep [John 10:7-11 (ESV)]. 
The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but Jesus came so that we might live an abundant life.  Committing suicide is an act of theft, murder, and destruction.  However, that does not mean that committing suicide is unforgivable.  It just puts us face-to-face with a grace that is bigger than we can comprehend.  The grace of God expressed through Jesus is bigger than the greatest sins that we can think of.  

We just need to realize that no setback is to big too overcome.  We need to follow Jesus and live in the hope and the knowledge that life goes on no matter what the circumstances.  Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" [Romans 8:1 (ESV)].  What kind of grace would grace be if we were condemned to hell when we died while committing a sin?  The grace we receive from God covers all past, present, and future sins.  One might feel that this gives us a license to sin, but exactly the opposite happens when you experience this grace.  It isn't a license to sin; it's a freedom to live. 

God's grace is big enough for suicide, but God's plan for your life is so much greater than the permanent setbacks that emotionally engulf you.  There is always another change that can be made and another road to go down.  Don't give up.  We serve a God of hope. 

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,even as we hope in you.
                       Psalms 33:22 (ESV)