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Jude's avatar

Where does Catholicism stand on suicide (the soul of someone who committed suicide)

Asked by Jude (31971 points ) March 26th, 2012

In the bible, is there somewhere where it says that the souls of those who commit suicide go to purgatory?

I know of an instance where someone committed suicide, yet, his funeral was held in a Catholic Church and he had a Catholic burial.

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7 Answers

janbb's avatar

It was my understanding that suicide was considered a sin and that one was not supposed to be buried in a Catholic cemetery but I am not an expert on Catholicism. It may be that modern Catholic thought has changed on this.

Nullo's avatar

There is no Purgatory in the Bible, so there’s no data. Suicide is considered a sin on the grounds that you’re killing someone, and (more broadly) aren’t putting your faith in God. Fortunately, salvation isn’t jeopardized by last-minute sins because they’ve been forgiven in advance. Unless you’re Catholic.
I think that, per Catholic tradition, suicide would send you to Hell, or else Limbo. Even good Catholics go to Purgatory for a few thousand years.

Jude's avatar

I just found this. Interesting:

I’m currently going through RCIA and my Priest breifly touched on suicide a couple of weeks ago.

According to him, centuries ago there was a problem, whereby some Catholics would go to confession, receive the Blessed Sacrament and then being in a state of Grace, commit suicide, thus (in their minds anyway) going straight to Heaven.

The ‘straight to hell’ thing was a means of stopping people from contemplating this course of action and clearly did not take into account any psycological states of mind that would make someone take their own life.

Just incase anyone is about to refute or completely believe all this, I have no idea if it is true, only that my Priest explained the Church’s stance on suicide using the example given above.

marinelife's avatar

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

“Editor’s note: The authoritative Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 2280–2283) makes the following points about 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. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”

madsmom1030's avatar

I know that it is a sin according Catholics but not all priests act the same way. My first husband committed suicide due to being severally bipolar and put on zoloft. My in-laws are practicing catholics and the church they go to is pretty small and the priest was definitely very conservative. My husband had committed suicide in the early morning and the priest came out to my inlaw’s home later that afternoon. I expected him to tell us it was a sin etc, etc. But he was actually very compassionate and kind. We learned later that he was also bipolar and knew the challenges.

A few years ago a cousin went to an all boys’ Catholic high school. Shortly before graduation a classmate committed suicide. The boys were all gathered together for mass the next day and the sermon condemned the dead boy, said suicide was and sin and he did something wrong and couldn’t be absolved. That blew my mind that a priest that teaches 13–18 year old boys and knows the challenges and issues they face would say that.. so the reaction varies.

Pandora's avatar

@madsmom1030 That does seem sad but Catholic schools have to be concerned for all of their students. I think they probably did that as a deterrent since teen suicides have been known to happen more frequently following the suicide of a familiar teen. You never know who is on the fence with suicide and some get the courage to follow through once they personally know of someone who has done it. If they would’ve said that it was all forgiven and heaven was not in jeapordy, than the kids who haven’t gone through with it will think its ok in the eyes of God.
I think some priest or the Church can choose to let suicide slide if the person has a known history of mental illness because then it is not known if they were fully aware of the consequences.
@Nullo The 10 Commandments says, Thy shall not kill or more accurate, Murder. Suicide is murdering yourself.
Personally, I think, anyone who commits suicide is not well of mind. God aside, our primal instinct is to survive. I think a persons mind has to be completely overwrought to override the survival instinct.

Found this on teen suicide .

Nullo's avatar

@madsmom1030 Sometimes there’s an ugly truth that has to be told. Better to tell it than let people be broadsided by the aftermath. Rather like breaking the news of a cancer diagnosis. Though I’m more of the Protestant persuasion, and take a more lenient view regarding sin and forgiveness.

This is, in essence, the idea behind evangelism. Tell people the truth so that they can take the action necessary for salvation.

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