What Does the Bible Say About Suicide and Depression?
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is someone who commits suicide condemned to hell?
- I have messed up my life by making bad decisions, and I often think about
dying. What can I do?
- Will God forgive someone who kills himself?
- What does the Bible say about depression?
- Is suicide prohibited in the Bible?
- I am very depressed and hate myself. Why won't God answer my prayers?
- I am very depressed. Who can I talk to?
- What happens to people who commit suicide?
Suicide is the act of intentionally killing oneself. It is a tragedy not only for
person whose life is lost, but also for surviving family and friends who may experience
feelings of grief, emptiness, guilt, failure or shame. In the U.S., suicide
is the 10th leading cause of death and accounts for over 38,000 deaths each year.
Nearly all suicides result from treatable mental disorders. As with other illnesses
like heart disease and cancer, suicide deaths cannot be prevented by prayer alone. Professional
medical treatment is the answer to our prayers that God provides.
This article tells what the Bible says about suicide, and it also lists professional
resources available if you or someone you care about is at risk for suicide.
The Bible mentions several instances of suicide (Judges 16:29-30, 1 Samuel 31:4-5,
2 Samuel 17:23, 1 Kings 16:18, Matthew 27:3-5), but it does not give any specific
teachings about suicide. However, there are several passages that indicate life
is given by God and only God has the right to take it away. For example:
"I came naked from my mother's womb," he said, "and I shall
have nothing when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had, and they were his
to take away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." (TLB, Job 1:21)
More specifically, God has given life to each of us to do his work on Earth.
Our bodies belong to God, not to ourselves. So, it is up to Him to decide when our
work on Earth is finished, not up to us:
Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God
gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you.
For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to
give glory back to God because he owns it. (TLB, 1st Corinthians 6:19-20)
Often, the hard times in our lives, when things may seem hopeless, are really
opportunities to learn valuable lessons such as humility, dependence on God, the
value of prayer, or to learn how to help others who are suffering. In times when
things seem the worst, we can be sure that God loves us more than ever:
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten
by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid;
you are worth more than many sparrows. (NIV, Luke 12:6-7 )
"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him
who knocks it shall be opened. "Or what man is there among you, when his
son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? "Or if he shall ask
for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? "If you then, being
evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your
Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (NAS, Matthew
People often wonder if a person who dies from suicide can be saved and get to
heaven, but the Bible does not say anything about this. Most Christians believe
what matters most to God is how a person lives his or her life rather than how he
or she dies.
Most thoughts of suicide are associated with the illness depression. Depression
was not recognized as a illness in Biblical times, so there are no direct references
to it in the Bible. But even Biblical heroes like Jacob (Genesis 37:34-35), Job
(Job 3:1-11) and King David (2 Samuel 18:33) apparently suffered from depression
at some point in their lives.
God often uses other people to answer our prayers (Genesis 24:12-16, Ezra
1:1-3, Acts 9:10-17).
As with other illnesses, treatment from a healthcare professional is often God's
answer to prayers about depression.
According to the
Institute of Mental Health, depression is a disorder of the brain that can be
treated with medication and/or psychotherapy. Symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease
even with treatment.
Depression can make things seem hopeless when actually they are not. Anyone feeling severely depressed or having thoughts of suicide should promise
himself or herself not to take any action until discussing it with a school guidance
counselor, physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, hospital emergency room physician
or suicide hotline. All these people are trained to recognize warning signs of depression
and to know how to help.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Suicide
Here is some information from the National Suicide Prevention
The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide
is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful
event, loss, or change. All threats or talk of suicide should be taken
seriously. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs,
seek help as soon as possible.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
Free Help Resources
If you, or someone you care about, is depressed or thinking about suicide, it is
important to seek help right away. The resources listed below can help you to help
yourself or to help someone else. Most of them provide free referrals, help and advice,
or just someone to talk to if you are feeling down.
- United States:
- Suicide hotlines at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Suicide TTY hotline for deaf: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- A list of state suicide hotlines at http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html
- Suicide Hotline in Spanish (Español) : 1-800-273-TALK (Press 2)
- Military Veterans Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 1)
- LGBT Youth Suicide Hotline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at http://www.afsp.org/
- United Kingdom:
- Ireland (ROI):
- International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). A list of crisis
centers and suicide helplines throughout the world at: at http://www.iasp.info/
- Befrienders Worldwide. A list by country of suicide hotlines and other
resources at http://www.befrienders.org/
- Other resources:
- School Guidance Counselors
- A minister or priest
- A community Mental Health Association
- A community crisis center
- A hospital emergency room
- Call an emergency phone number (Call 9-1-1 in the U.S.)
Related Article: Why Does God Allow Evil Things to Happen?
Last updated September, 2014.