Suicide is the act of killing oneself and – when done purposely – a form of murder.
Unless done accidentally (e.g. shooting oneself with a loaded firearm not knowing it was loaded at the time, or accidentally taking too much of a prescribed medication), it is a sin throughout all of Judaism and Christianity, and a mortal sin in Roman Catholic teaching (thus making the deceased ineligible for a funeral mass); it is not a sin in the Islam culture if one engages in a homicide attack.
Christians should remember that they are given life to love and to serve the Lord, and during times of desperation to remember the words of Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God."
In the United States suicide was – technically – a crime in a few states until the early 2000s; however assisted suicide is considered a crime in most states (often akin to homicide). Oregon, Washington, and Montana are the only states in the United States which currently allow assisted suicide. The states enforce strict mandates on the availability and administration of the procedure.
Many advocates for assisted suicide claim that this is one of the few situations where the act itself is legal, and yet the assistance of the act is a crime.
Scope of the Problem
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the world, claiming over one million lives globally in 1999. The suicide rate in the United States in 1999 was 10.7 per 100,000; the homicide rate that same year was only 6.2 per 100,000. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth 15–24 years old. White males over 85 have the highest rate of suicide, about 65 per 100,000. Suicide rates are also elevated in some ethnic groups. For example, suicide is about 1.5 times more prevalent than average among native Americans. While whites continue to have higher suicide rates than blacks, the gap seems to be narrowing in young males. Suicides in males outnumber those in females in almost all nations, including the United States. While males are more likely to complete suicide, females are more likely to attempt suicide.
Suicide in the Military
The United States Army, which has about one million soldiers, reported 99 suicides in 2006, which is less than 0.01%. About half were soldiers/officers under 25. According to Colonel Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to Army Surgeon General Major General Gale Pollock, the primary motivation for these suicides had nothing to do with military service, and instead were due to "failed intimate relationships, failed marriages."
Suicide and Liberalism
Liberal teachings, such as accepting homosexuality and downplaying the sanctity of life, are undeniably one of the major causes of suicide. Countries such as France, Denmark, and Canada all have much more liberal tendencies than the US as well as higher suicide rates.
Atheism and suicide
Phil Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California (which was the first secular studies university department). He specialization is in the sociology of secularity.
The website Adherents.com reported concerning atheism and suicide:
|“|| Pitzer College sociologist Phil Zuckerman compiled country-by-country survey, polling and census numbers relating to atheism, agnosticism, disbelief in God and people who state they are non-religious or have no religious preference. These data were published in the chapter titled "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns" in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005). In examining various indicators of societal health, Zuckerman concludes about suicide:
"Concerning suicide rates, this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations. According to the 2003 World Health Organization's report on international male suicides rates (which compared 100 countries), of the top ten nations with the highest male suicide rates, all but one (Sri Lanka) are strongly irreligious nations with high levels of atheism. It is interesting to note, however, that of the top remaining nine nations leading the world in male suicide rates, all are former Soviet/Communist nations, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Latvia. Of the bottom ten nations with the lowest male suicide rates, all are highly religious nations with statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism."
Concerning atheism and depression, a University of Michigan study involving 19,775 individuals found that religious people are less likely than atheists to suffer depression when they are lonely. See also: Atheism and loneliness
- Adherents.com - suicide rates
- Phil Zuckerman, Berkley Center website
- Lonely religious people are less depressed than atheists because they see God as a friend replacement, study finds, Daily Mail, 2018
Forms of suicide
- Altruistic suicide
- Anomic suicide
- Assisted suicide
- Homosexual suicide
- Suicide bomber
- Suicide bombing
- Abortion and suicide
- Atheism and European suicide in the 17th century
- Atheism, gender and suicide
- Atheism, marriage and suicide
- Ex-Christians, self-esteem and suicide
- Demme, Greg, Suicide: What’s the problem? 2 April 2008 (Creation Ministries International)
- What is the Christian view of suicide? What does the Bible say about suicide?, at GotQuestions
- Why should I not commit suicide?, at GotQuestions