The Bible never confronts suicide head on. But there are six men who took their own lives. There are also other principles which apply.
This is a somewhat difficult question to answer. It’s a deeply personal question disguised as a theological one. Chances are, you’re either looking for comfort or you need guidance because suicide has actually touched your life in some way.
The Bible never really confronts the issue of suicide head on. But there are at least six cases of men taking their own lives. There are also many other governing principles which we can apply.
Stories of suicide in the Bible
Abimilech was the first to take his own life (Judges 9:54). He was a proud man who would stop at nothing to make himself king over Israel. When he was struck in the skull by a woman during a city raid, he told his armor-bearer to kill him before the wound could have a chance. He refused to be killed by a woman.
Similarly, King Saul asked his armor-bearer to take his life when he was pierced by Philistine arrows during battle (1 Sam. 31:4). The armor-bearer hesitated so Saul fell on his own sword. Consequently, his armor-bearer then took his own life.
Ahithophel was King David’s trusted advisor who joined in a plot against him. When the insurrection failed and Ahithophel knew his reputation was destroyed, he hung himself (2 Sam. 17:23).
Zimri murdered the king of Israel in order to take the throne, but it only lasted seven days. The people of Israel stormed the city to remove him. Aware of his defeat, Zimri set fire to his own palace and burned alive (1 Kings 16:18).
The last case of suicide in the Bible is Judas Iscariot–the man who betrayed Christ (Matt. 27:5). Once he saw a real glimpse of what he had done, he returned the money he was paid and hung himself.
Sin’s connection to death
To be carnally minded is death (Rom. 8:6). With the exception of perhaps Saul’s armor-bearer, every tale of suicide in the Bible involves wicked men. Some took their lives because of pride and others were focused solely on material circumstances.
However, that’s not to say every person who has committed suicide was a blatantly evil person. But there is a close relationship between sin and death. In the grand scheme, there would be no death if not for sin. In the more relevant sense, a person doesn’t choose to end their life apart from sin or its effects.
Sinful living leads to misery which often leads to self-destructive behavior–even suicide. Furthermore, all forms of sorrow and physical pain or sickness in this life are also byproducts of sin.
In short, the only way to combat those feelings which might lead a person to commit suicide is through a spiritual mindset. To be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom. 8:6).
If you know someone who is struggling or if you are struggling yourself, the answer is Jesus. The first step is to remove any sin in your life. The second step is to follow Christ.
The good news of liberty
Nearly one million people attempt suicide every year in the United States alone. Maybe you’ve asked this question because you know someone who has done it. Perhaps you’ve also been told that suicide is an unforgivable sin. That is simply not true.
Yes, suicide is a sin. It is a sin similar to murder. It’s the taking of a life which was not ours to take. However, the gospel is the good news of Christ removing the eternal consequences of our sin.
Sometimes suicide is considered an unforgivable sin because the person who commits it cannot repent. But eternal life is not obtained by him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy (Rom. 9:16). The saving benefits of repentance are significant but also limited.
It is Christ and Christ alone who saved us from our sins. Repentance is rightly defined as a work of man which only happens if that man is already born of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). If he is born of the Spirit, then he already has eternal life (Rom. 8:8-11).
It is an insult to the finished work of Christ to claim there is a sin the blood of the Lamb could not cover. We can take comfort in knowing that salvation is and has always been in the secure hand of God the Father to which none can be plucked out (John 10:28).