Suicide has touched my life this week. The son of a woman I know committed suicide. He leaves behind family that is beyond devastated, including his own young children.
Suicide is, and has always been, a concept of life that puzzles me; confuses me; and, yes, really angers me. My first experience was a distant relative that committed suicide when I was about 5 years old. Fifty years later, when that relative’s name is mentioned at a family gathering, the voices go to whispers and everyone has the shadow of that hurt, puzzled look that they had on the first day after it happened. I spent twelve weeks as part of my nurse’s training in a psychiatric hospital. During my twelve years as a hospice nurse, we had six patients who decided they were done with this life. It wasn’t physical pain that drove them but the loss of control. In their final notes they said they thought that ending their life sooner would be ‘easier’ for their families. I believe they were wrong. On every level, the families had a ‘mess’ to clean up and walk through in order to get on with their lives.
Contrary to the theme song from the original M*A*S*H movie, suicide is painful. It is painful to everyone it touches. It feels like failure to everyone it touches. I am not going to attempt to discuss the psychiatric aspects of this disease outcome. I am going to say that as Christian I do not believe that suicide is the ‘unpardonable sin’. Many feel that because suicide is defined as a sin (under the umbrella of the command ‘do not kill’) and the person who commits the sin immediately dies – they die without repenting of that sin. That theory is scary to me as that supposes that I will have the opportunity to repent of every sin that I have committed before I die and so will die with a ‘clean slate’. And, more importantly, it also ignores the extravagant, promised-to-be-sufficient grace that God freely gives.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:14 (NIV)