One of the full-time missionaries currently serving in our ward recently received some sad and disturbing news. His father committed suicide. It has been known that his father struggled with depression. His mother left for a few minutes to run some errands, and while she was out, his father shot himself in the head. The missionary, a brand new greenie serving in his first area, has decided to stick it out and continue his mission. I admire his willingness to continue his valuable service during a time when his heart is probably very heavy indeed.
Suicide is a topic that is a touchy one for me for a couple of reasons. One is that two of my sisters made suicide attempts during their teenage years. They were clearly troubled and unhappy during this difficult time, and I never knew what to say to them. My hopes and prayers were that they could somehow be more happy with life, and to some degree those prayers have slowly been answered.
Another reason for this topic being touchy to me is that I have entertained suicidal thoughts myself during depressing times in my younger days. One of my primary reasons for quickly dismissing such dark and troubling thoughts is a belief that I have had through much of my life in a partially false doctrine regarding suicide. My belief was that if one committed suicide that they would get a one-way ticket to the telestial kingdom. No questions asked. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I felt that I could probably just coast through life and at least crack the terrestrial kingdom, so why would I throw a degree of glory away just to avoid the temporary negative aspects of mortality? It didn’t make any sense, so better just to dismiss the thought and get on with life.
My wife and I were discussing suicide, and I found out that she believed the same partially false doctrine that I did regarding suicide. That suicide was difficult if not impossible to repent of, and that those who committed it would be automatically committed to an eternity with the other ‘stars’. Mormon.org has a listing for the topic of suicide that can be found here. There is also a good article from the Ensign about suicide here.
My heart goes out to those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and to those families and friends affected by the tragedy of a loved one who takes their own life. I wonder if my mindset would have been different in my younger days if I had not had such a strict and absolute belief in the ‘wickedness’ of suicide. I have called the belief in suicide=telestial kingdom a partially false doctrine because for some it may end up that way, but that is for God to decide. I feel it is important for us to keep in mind that suicide is wrong and a sin, but how wrong, like many things, is for the Lord to decide.