Religion and Suicide

One of the most challenging aspects of coping with a suicide is the perceived religious issues associated with the death. There are many misconceptions about how organized religions look at suicide and even if a funeral service or burial is allowed.  Many religions have taken an enlightened view about suicide and acknowledge that the person who died by suicide was under emotional or psychiatric stress.  Here are some articles that touch on the topic of the religious aspects of suicide. 

Religion and Suicide

  • Religious and Cultural Views of Suicide
    • Resource: Website
    • Summary: Religious and cultural views of suicide can have a profound effect on the suicide bereaved. Read here what various religious and cultural groups believe about suicide and how that has continued to change over the years 
  • Coping with a Suicide Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Response
    • Resource: 29 page PDF
    • Summary: Although not a comprehensive source on suicide, this booklet attempts to help survivors, and those who are concerned about them, with some of the questions and doubts that commonly arise in the attempt to come to terms with bereavement by suicide.
  • Suicide By Rabbi Kassel Abelson
    • Resource: 11 page PDF
    • Summary:  An enlightened Rabbinical discussion of Suicide and the Jewish faith.  " Suicide, “taking one’s own life”, is forbidden by Jewish law, for only God who has given life may take it. Though the early Halakhah denied the suicide the usual burial and mourning rites, the trend of Halakhic development was to find a reason to treat the ritual for a suicide like the ritual for any other death. For the sake of the survivors the mourning ritual involving the family may be performed. The “suicide” of a katan (child) is always considered evidence of less mental capacity, and full rites are permitted. A history of mental illness is prima facie evidence, that the taking of one’s life was due to diminished mental capacity. In fact any reason is deemed sufficient to decide that a suicide is without full and complete mental capacity, or the result of temporary insanity. A suicide is to be treated like any other death, with the right of burial in the cemetery, and the same ritual of mourning.
  • The Healing Power of Saying Kaddish for a Suicide
    • Resource: 11 page PDF
    • Summary: This article will provide an overview of Jewish law on mourning a suicide while exploring in more depth the issues involved with saying Kaddish for someone who has taken his or her own life.
  • A Faith Based Perspective on Suicide