If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
1 Corinthians 3:17
Recently two of my colleagues wrote about how suicide has impacted their lives. You can read Rob Greene’s story here and Daren Rome Leo’s story here.
I always believed that suicide was a mortal sin. An instant ticket to H-E-double hockey sticks. A story that had been passed down to me from my elders was of the funeral of a Follower who had committed suicide.
Follower funerals are a bit different than those of outsiders, in my experience. Most church members make the trip to the funeral home to view the corpse of the deceased either the day before on the morning of the funeral.
All church members are invited and expected at funerals. If a funeral falls on a weekday, a lot of the men will miss it because they cannot get away from work. All the Follower families drive to the Carus Cemetery, park their cars and gather around the designated gravesite. There are several seats put out for immediate family members. Everyone else stands in a large, multi-layered semi-circle and waits for the funeral procession. When the hearse arrives, the noise and chatter quiets down. Once the coffin is in place, everyone crowds in closer to hear what’s happening.
Church men sing a few hymns picked out by the family. Every memorial flyer includes the twenty-third psalm, the names of the pall bearers, and the names of the hymns. After the very short service, church members drive to the church for a potluck.
The lore that followed the suicide was that during the service people heard the sounds of burning, and crackling. The sounds of Hell. I’m not sure who the funeral was for, it was before my time.
There were other folks who, sadly, took their own lives in our church. They were still buried in our cemetery paid for by the church, but everyone assumed they knew their destiny.
I’ve researched the sinfulness of suicide and haven’t found anything definitive or explicit. I don’t say that to encourage anyone to do it. It’s not a good risk. Many people say that suicide is selfish, and that makes sense. The “victim” is stealing something from his/her loved ones.
Maybe suicide can be seen in another way: it is a statistical death sentence for a certain percentage of mentally ill folks. Like saying (and I’m making these stats up) that 15% of cancer sufferers will die of cancer; 25% of clinically depressed people will die of depression. That’s not exactly fair, since cancer deaths are not choices.
I don’t have an easy answer about this. But, if you are considering taking your life, please don’t. Please talk to your family about it. And if you can’t talk to them, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.