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Matt Schmidt wrote:

Hi, guys,

  • Is suicide always a mortal sin?
  • Will it send you straight to Hell?

Matt

  { Is suicide always a mortal sin? }

Mike replied:

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the question.

Probably not. There are three criteria required to commit a mortal sin.

This is what the Catechism states:

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." (Reconciliatio et paenitentia 17 § 12)

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother." (Mark 10:19) The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart (cf. Mark 3:5-6; Luke 16:19-31) do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on suicide:

Suicide

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

This implies that if a family member or friend has committed suicide, no one, except God, Himself, would know the state of mind of the person who has committed suicide, at the time of the suicide.

If there were circumstances similar to those mentioned in the second part of CCC 2282, the responsibility can be diminished but we have to leave issues like these in the Lord's Hands and in His Divine Mercy.

I personally would recommend that a family, parish or diocese start a Divine Mercy novena for anyone who has taken their life. It just seems like an excellent act of charity that is unmistakably Catholic.

Everyone is made for a specific purpose in life. it is through our:

  • prayer and the sacramental life
  • secular education
  • religious education
  • and our friends and family

that we, with time, will discover what our unique calling is in this life.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi Matt,

Please see our knowledge base on this subject, it is discussed at length.

Eric

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