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Ask A Mormon: Do people who commit suicide go to hell?

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Editor’s Note: We chose to re-publish this article after a reader recently wrote in and asked about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its view on suicide. This article originally ran on Oct. 2, 2013.

Do you have a question about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Submit it online or fill out the form below.

Q. Do Mormons believe that people who commit suicide will go to hell?

 SPO-House-ad_Ask-A-Mormon_0823139A.When I was in college in Provo, Utah, my grandfather lived in Smithfield, Utah, just a couple of hours north. Two or three times each semester, my cousins and I would drive up to visit him for a long weekend, reveling in the childhood memories in that magical backyard, exploring the time capsule that was his basement and enjoying the break from the stress of classes. We would do little jobs around the house to be helpful — one weekend we completely re-roofed his garage — but really, I just wanted to spend time with him. By this point in his life he was homebound with limited mobility, so he would sit in his big blue easy chair in the corner of the living room, dutifully complete his physical therapy exercises and watch nature shows on TV. He was not a man of many words, but he would comment on the weather, the TV show, ask me how college was. He always kept a steady supply of M&Ms on hand, just for me, because he knew I loved them.During the summer break after my sophomore year, he was tentatively diagnosed withAlzheimer’s disease. He had suffered with several physical ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, for years and had recently begun having terrifying seizures. My grandmother, the love of his life, had died two years earlier. He was lonely, afraid, in pain and tired.

Within a couple weeks of the diagnosis, he killed himself.

Latter-day Saints believe in a loving and merciful father in heaven. We do not believe that God judges his children on the basis of a single action. He looks at the totality of their lives, what they did, who they became, the advantages and disadvantages they had and every extenuating circumstance with all the infinite compassion, love and wisdom He has. Judgment is God’s alone, of course, but Latter-day Saints do not believe that those who commit suicide are condemned to hell.

On a personal note, I simply do not believe in a punitive, vindictive God that would eternally punish my grandfather for feeling so despondent and hopeless that suicide seemed to be the best option. The God I believe in would weep for His child’s pain and encircle him in the arms of His eternal love.

If you’d like to read more about this topic in the LDS church, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote this article several years ago addressing questions about suicide.

 

Do you have a question about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Submit it online or fill out the form below.

 

Emily Geddes

About Emily Geddes

Emily H. Geddes was born to two physicists and grew up as a Navy brat. Born-and-raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she holds a bachelor's degree in theatre from Brigham Young University, and earned an MBA from Eastern Washington University.

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3 comments

  1. Tracy Simmons

    Emily,
    Thank you for sharing such a personal and touching story with us.

  2. That was really beatuify Emily, Thank you.

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