Suicide and Religious Beliefs

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Suicide has long been a topic of controversy when it comes to religious beliefs. Many Christians believe that an act of suicide condemns a person to hell. This confusion often leads to opposing conclusions about the fate of the victim. In a personal struggle to heal from my brother’s suicide I have chosen to examine scripture and conclude if suicide is an unforgivable sin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately every 13.7 seconds someone in the United States completes suicide. (Erin M. Sullivan & Thomas R. Simon, 2013) In 2007 this preventable public health problem was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for over 34,000 deaths. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2013) (Elizabeth M. Varcarolis, 2010) This astonishing number of deaths is accumulative of various acts of suicide.
The definition that authorities use to rule a death as a suicide is also of great debate; for example if a soldier throws his/her body upon a grenade and dies as a result but saves many innocent lives this could be defined as suicide. This act meets the Merriam-Webster definition of suicide as the “Act of intentionally taking one’s own life”, yet in many minds it is not considered a moral sin to sacrifice yourself for the greater good. Someone who knows the deadly effects that smoking has on the human body yet continues to smoke and later dies of a disease related to smoking also easily meets the definition of suicide. (Cholbi, 2013)
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