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If a Person Commits Suicide, Is He Automatically Lost for Hell?

Suicide is a delicate and disturbing subject.

After the recent suicide of Brittany Maynard, many people are discussing it, and some are asking perennial questions, like whether those who commit suicide are automatically lost.

While suicide can be a mortal sin, it is not always one, and the Church both prays for those who have committed suicide and encourages us not to despair of their salvation.

Here are is the Catechism’s discussion of the conditions necessary for mortal sin.

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

And here is the passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on suicide:

2280 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.

2281 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.

2282 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.

2283 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.

Let’s pray for all those who are tempted to commit suicide, for all those who have committed it, and for all those who have lost someone to suicide.


Written By Jimmy Akin



  1. rachelle Reply

    Then why the body of dead ppl who have committed suicide due to depression etc are not blessed and given a funeral mass?????

  2. ada Reply

    in the ole days we were told that the ones who have commited suicide could not be buried in the cemetary or be in the church i was 10 at the time….

    1. Migs Reply

      That happens because the Church does not encourage suicide. If you read the Bible, it is recommended when people become immoral or heretic should be excommunicated till they repent and change their lives.

  3. MarMay Reply

    Rachelle and Ada, our Faith is constantly developing so that we understand things in a clearer way or in a different way than we did in the past. But the Teachings of Jesus Christ never change…it’s just explained in a better way. I remember, too, when I was really young and suicide victims or even people who were married outside of the Church were not given a full Catholic Mass and Burial and then buried outside of a Catholic Cemetery. It’s not that way anymore because we have a better understanding of the explanations given above.

  4. catstclair12000 Reply

    Our understanding of human psychology has changed. We used to believe that suicides threw their lives away and that it was an insult to God who called them into being. Now we understand that many of these people are in great pain and are not rational at the time. As with any sin, you must know it is a sin, you must freely choose to commit the sin, and you must actually do it. Those who have disordered minds are not free to choose. There is an old story of a monk who had a very quick temper which he tried for years to control. One day, a novice did something unbelievably stupid. The monk seemed about to explode in anger and suddenly dropped dead. The other monks hesitated to bury him in consecrated ground because he died in anger. An angel appeared and said, “Don’t be afraid to bury him with the full rites of the Church. It was not his anger that killed him. It was the effort he was making not to become angry.”

  5. James M Essig Reply

    Having been in the company of and personally knowing many folks with severe mental illness, I’ve had to hear the sad news of about a dozen such folks over the years taking their own lives. However, we should indeed not despair as the Church prays for all those who have taken their lives. Given the agony of severe episodes of major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia in its various sub-categories, I feel that at the very least, virtually all those who take their lives are saved. GOD is a loving father with a soft heart and grieves with his vulnerable Children so afflicted.

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