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Timothy wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question in regard to suicide.

As a Jew, there is still debate in some circles over the acceptability of suicide to sanctify God's Name such as martyrdom. As an inquiring mind, I am interested in the views of all the world's religions; therefore, I would like to understand the Catholic view of the following situation.

I have an almost morbid curiosity for the occult. So much so, that I watch supernatural and religious horror more than I watch baseball. The subjects of many of my favorite films revolve around the undead, either as zombies or vampires. These creatures, after feeding on human flesh, spread demonic possession to the remains.

  • Would it be forgivable to impale one's self on a wooden stake through the heart to prevent impending possession of one's soul by vampires?
  • Would it also be acceptable to commit suicide in a method which destroys the brain to prevent becoming a zombie?

This is a confusing subject, as suicide is a mortal sin resulting in eternal damnation however the loss of a life in the fight against evil is an act of martyrdom.

  1. Suicide results in damnation
  2. Martyrdom results in salvation.
  1. Where is the line drawn in this delicate situation?

Thank you for your help,

A Curious Jew

  { What's the difference between suicide which prevents possible evil and an act of martyrdom? }

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Tim —

You are exposing yourself to dangers by pursing the occult. Media can be the medium of diabolic influence. You have also confused real occult with fantasy.

Zombies are not real, though there is a voodoo cult that does something similar, which gave rise to the belief. There are no real vampires, but there are some evil [and/or] possessed people, and worshippers of demons, who desire the blood of others, and kill, and this gave rise to the idea. Vampires of that sort cannot possess one's soul. Only satan can possess a person and he does not possess the soul, but the body. The soul is often innocent, but the person possessed could also be guilty of opening [himself or herself] to the occult or to Satan. So you are risking diabolic influence and possession by your curiosity!

  • Would you stab your curiosity through the heart to free yourself, i.e. would you renounce these silly films?

It seems they have taken some possession of you already.

As to your question, if you happened to have a stake and were about to be possessed by the vampire, you should use it on the vampire. I speak in jest, but you do reflect the point that one should treat oneself with rigor to prevent possession, which would mean leaving aside vampire movies and literature, etc. Even given the fantasy nature of the example, No, it would not be acceptable to take one's own life to prevent the possibility of becoming possessed by evil. That would show a lack of trust in God and be a violation of His rights over your life.

You are incorrect that the loss of one's life in the fight against evil is martyrdom. Martyrdom is when someone kills you because of your faith, not when you die fighting against evil. Dying in the fight against evil is self-sacrifice (and it is not self-induced sacrifice).

The difference between suicide to prevent possible evil and martyrdom is that in martyrdom you are being killed for your faith while in suicide, to prevent evil, you are presuming to take the place of God, both in:

  • presuming to know the future
  • presuming on His help or, lack thereof, and
  • presuming to take the place of His Right to decide your moment of death.

Put a stake in your curiosity.

Mary Ann

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