Suicide and Salvation
December 3, 2010 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

I would like to know if you can answer this – if someone is a true believer in Christ, but still just feels things are too much, I guess you could say, and that they should move on… If they committed suicide, could they still go to Heaven, or do you think that automatically sends someone to Hell?

I am 22 years old, and have been a believer all my life. I’ve always had a hard time with it, because of a lifelong history of abuse, neglect, and abandonment, which led to my own addiction problems. In short, you name it and it has probably either happened to me or i’ve done it. Now my deep rooted faith has always brought me back to God and I really do love him. I just say all that for a little background.  

Thank you for your time, I sincerely hope you’ll consider a response.

Sincerely, A confused girl

Dear Confused,

I am saddened to hear of your hardship, trauma, and heartbreaking experiences. It is clear you have been wounded and those wounds are not yet fully healed.

Let me first assure you that healing is possible. I have treated thousands of people who have been abused (physically and sexually) as children, neglected, abandoned, raped, assaulted, betrayed, abused in marriages, and more. And I have seen heart wounds heal, anxiety resolve, depression remit and frightened, angry, insecure individuals experience peace, joy and love.

So don’t despair, but be hopeful; your situation is not beyond remedy. In my experience the idea of suicide usually presents itself when a person is in some type of pain and begins to believe the pain will never end and there is no other escape. Suicide becomes what they think is their only “hope” of relief. This idea is false – suicide is not the way out.

There are few things on earth about which we can have certainty, but one thing I am certain about is that it is God’s will to heal our hearts and minds – here and now! It is true, we won’t get new bodies or brains until the second coming, but we can experience a new heart, a new attitude, a new perspective, a new way of feeling and thinking about ourselves and others. We can experience healing for emotional wounds and traumas here and now.

When one has been wounded, healing is often painful, but the pain of healing does not mean harm is occurring. Consider someone with a broken leg. Once the leg is broken, the process of setting the bone and physical therapy to recover strength is painful, but such pain is not evidence of harm.

Likewise, you have been injured. Your heart has been broken. There are deep wounds which have yet to heal. In the process this will be uncomfortable. Some of my patients initially misunderstand such pain and thus start the healing process only to withdraw and thus fail to improve. But for those who will tolerate the emotional discomfort of addressing their issues in a relationship with a competent professional, they experience healing and resolution of pain. If you will engage the process with a competent professional therapist, you will heal and the pain will gradually resolve.

You asked if one were a genuine believer in Christ, could one go to heaven if he or she committed suicide. If someone genuinely trusts Christ with his or her life, and opens the heart to Him, what would He like to do for them? What would He like for them to do?

Many people get confused about Christ’s role in the healing process. Many patients tell me they have prayed and prayed for years for Christ to take away their pain, yet they get no better. This would be similar to a patient asking the physical therapist to take away his weakness while the patient never actually does the exercises. The healing Christ wants us to experience, and for which He provides His power to help us achieve, requires our active participation. It is when we activate our energies in harmony with His to begin, step by step, applying His methods to our life that our brain rewires itself. The unhealthy, painful, emotional circuits will eventually be pruned and healthy calming circuits will be formed and we are literally changed in the process.

I encourage you not to give up. I encourage you to listen to the many free lectures on this website, including the Healing the Mind Seminar, Recovering from Sexual Abuse, Healing a Broken Heart and many more.

Thank you for reaching out and asking this question for it shows that you really do want help. Get in touch with a professional counselor in your local area and begin the healing process! You can get well!

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.
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