Suicidal Consequences

Mormon in the Real World

This woman was saved by the photographer, who grabbed the back of her coat and pulled her up and over the railing.

I’m taking a course on Death & Dying.  Our last period focused on murder, mass murder, natural disasters, serial killers, and suicide.  It wasn’t the most uplifting class.  We watched a documentary titled “The Bridge”.  The directors set up cameras to record a year of death at one of the top suicidal destinations in the world, The Golden Gate Bridge of San Fransisco, California.  It broke my heart to watch these people jump, hear their stories, and see the grief experienced by their loved ones.  What hope is there for those who choose such a bitter end?

The majority of suicides are committed by people who are mentally ill or disturbed on some level.  One woman on the film suffered from depression and schizophrenia, another case was about a boy who attempted but miraculously survived and was later diagnosed as being bipolar.  They were both very troubled individuals.

If you know someone who is contemplating suicide, please contact the police and their family.

The story of the surviving boy was interesting.   He realized a moment after jumping that he didn’t want to die.  The thought came into his mind to readjust his body in mid-air to approach the water feet first, in a sitting position (turns out this is the safest way to hit water at 147 miles/hr.).  He did so, but was still badly injured upon impact.

He had just enough strength to surface when he felt something bump up against his foot and thought, “Great, I’ve survived the bridge to be attacked by sharks” and quickly lost pace with reality.  He later discovered the bump on his leg was a seal that circled around him, keeping him afloat until the Coast Guard came.  He would have died otherwise.  He believes God saved him.

Many of us have heard Christianity’s blanket view on suicide, “If you take your own life you are doomed to spend all eternity in Hell.”  I don’t think it’s as simple as that.

It’s amazing to me that some people view God as a ferocious being who strikes in furious wrath at sinners.  I see him as a Father figure who loves us and provided us with a Savior who atoned for our sins so we may return to Him.  He is about mercy and love.

I don’t think God wants to hurt or condemn us, rather He wants to lift and help us.  I believe this compassion and understanding extends to those who woefully choose suicide.  They too are His children.  I’m not saying “Hell” (aka Telestial Kingdom) isn’t  a possibility, but I don’t believe it’s the rule, either.  Some understand the gravity of their actions and have little care beyond their selfish act.  Others do not.  I can’t imagine a Heavenly Father who would place a mentally ill person under such judgement.

There is a great article titled, “Suicide:  Some things we know, and some we do not” by Elder M. Russell Ballard, an Apostle of our Church:

The purpose of our mortal lives, we know, is to prove ourselves, to eventually return to live in the celestial kingdom. One who commits suicide closes the door on all that, some have thought, consigning himself to the telestial kingdom.

Or does he? What is the truth regarding suicide? [. . .]

Suicide is a sin—a very grievous one, yet the Lord will not judge the person who commits that sin strictly by the act itself. The Lord will look at that person’s circumstances and the degree of his accountability at the time of the act. Of course, this gives us no reason to excuse ourselves in committing sins, nor will the Lord excuse us, if I understand correctly. We must constantly strive to do our best in emulating the Savior in every aspect of our lives.

I believe God will judge in fairness and if possible, provide them with further opportunity to repent, grow, and continue on their journey.  I encourage you to read the full article, it’s amazing and may be of some comfort if you have lost someone in this manner.  My heart goes out to you and yours.

-Chickout 😉

Article: Suicide:  Some Things we Know, and Some we Do Not

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About atmchick

I'm a well grounded (a)typical Mormon (Latter-day-saint) chick.

Posted on May 27, 2010, in Featured Articles, LDS Beliefs, Mormon in the Real World and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I do think that suicide in general is a VERY selfish move. Yet, I agree with you that God is a compassionate Father who will do everything He can to help us get as much glory as we will accept. He loves us. He IS love. How could someone believe Him to be a cruel and unforgiving God when He sent His Son to atone for us? Thanks for this thoughtful post. I love to hear people talk about our loving Heavenly Father!

  2. Hi M,

    I took a Death and Dying class about 7 years ago at a city college. It was great. Our you guys using the Kubler-Ross book?
    Great post topic!

  3. You addressed this topic well. It’s one that hits home to me in different ways and which I could talk of, but prefer to do so in one-on-one or small group settings because of how personal it is to me. I hadn’t realized there was a talk by one of the brethren concerning suicide. Of course, I never looked for one either.

    The part about the seal and the surviving boy was kind of neat, actually.

  4. I totally agree. I can’t imagine the mental state you would have to be in to take your own life. I know on many levels it is a selfish act and leaves so much pain behind for loved ones, at the same time, I think Heavenly Father will have such compassion on those who have had to expereince life through a mind so troubled by despair and depression, etc.

    On a different note, I don’t know how I feel about the camera being set up to record people that jump off of the bridge. As a parent or sibling, I think I would feel furious to think of tons of randosm strangers watching video footage of something so horribly catastrophic and personal and devastating.

    • Nanc-
      This documentary was/is VERY controversial. The directors said San Fransisco gave them permission to set up the cameras, but the city denies it. I think it would be very hard to have a son or daughter remembered by thousands in such a manner. And to have it on video? Ugh. And what does it say about us – those viewing it?

      Additionally – The Empire State Building used to be the top suicidal destination in the United States, now it’s the Golden Gate Bridge. What changed things? New York city elected to put up a fence all the way around the viewing floor of the building. San Fransisco has considered doing similarly, but each time the bill was brought before the people, it was turned down. Is the beauty of the bridge or views more important than saving lives? Would those lives really be saved – or would the “jumpers” find another place to kill themselves?

      Why a fence on the Empire State building and NOT the Golden Gate bridge?

      Is it because dead bodies on the street are more bothersome or more dangerous to those below than those sinking in a river? Those at the bridge jump – but the majority of people don’t see the remains . . . they’re quietly picked up by the coast guard.
      What do you think about it?

  5. “Many of us have heard Christianity’s blanket view on suicide, “If you take your own life you are doomed to spend all eternity in Hell.” I don’t think it’s as simple as that.”

    — While that certainly drew me in. What a wonderfully written post. I’ve loved blurking on you blog but you’ve enticed me to comment.

    I don’t know what I would do without an understanding of God as a loving, perfect Father and the final judgment as a perfect one. With so much imperfect judgement on the earth, it’s difficult to comprehend what perfect judgment would be like.

    For someone to perfectly understand exactly what you went through, your motivations, and everything and judge you according to that, placing you in the heaven where you will be most happy — to us on earth it’s difficult to imagine. Yet I believe that is what awaits us and I take comfort that my judge will be one who knows what it’s like to be on your feet all day, start cooking a scrumptious meal for dinner, burn everything (including your finger) and culminate the experience in completely loosing all patience. It is only just that our judge be perfectly just.

    Thank you for the reminder and for applying this principle to such a delicate, intimate subject. I will share this post with friends.

    • Hi Bri –
      I agree . . . it doesn’t make sense to me. As to degree of sin, suicide is often compared with murder. Here on Earth, we are able to see different levels of consequences for various degrees of murder – and we’re imperfect. Wouldn’t it make sense that God would see similarly for degrees of suicide? He’s perfect . . . His judgment taking all things into account that a criminal jury could never see. I’d much rather put my eternal “fate” into His hands than a blind jury. Thanks for your comments.

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