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What are the consequences of suicide according to the Roman Catholic church? Are there exceptions or special penalties?

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Seems like a very broad question. What part of their belief are you asking? Is it a sin? Does it keep you from heaven (… )? – DTest Aug 30 '11 at 23:42
Better? I'm intending to make a better version of the question you linked. – djeikyb Aug 30 '11 at 23:54
Better...but still seems like too many questions. I almost think you could assume they believe it's a sin and just ask about consequences/exceptions in this particular question. and spawn the rest of them into their own questions (though the bit of prominent people that disagree seems non-constructive) – DTest Aug 30 '11 at 23:58
@DTest You're right. Narrowed further. – djeikyb Aug 31 '11 at 0:04
This is a nice question, at this point! +1 – Richard Aug 31 '11 at 1:01
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Since the soul is in a state of mortal sin at the time of death for someone who commits suicide, it would seem that the consequence must necessarily be damnation.

However here is what the catechism says:


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.

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Yet, the catechism states that for something to be considered a mortal sin, it has to be freely done by our own will and with full knowledge of its sinfulness. it could be said that one who commits suicide is often not in his/her right state of mind and acting rationally, and therefore isn't culpable for committing suicide. If it is freely chosen murder of oneself in a rational state of mind, that is one thing. But if the person is under psychological duress or disabled, they may not have responsibility for it, and so it may not be considered sinful. – Ben Richards Aug 31 '11 at 20:21
@sidran32 What you mentioned is exactly stated at the end of the CCC reference. (2282-2283) – Andrew Dec 13 '12 at 15:22
@BenRichards Good comment. I think what you mean in the last sentence is "it may not be considered mortally sinful"; though the act is still sinful whether or not it is committed with full knowledge of its sinfulness (thus making it mortal). – John Peyton Sep 6 '13 at 3:24
@JohnPeyton I would say that it couldn't necessarily be a mortal sin. But, as a venial sin, while it still is a sin, it is something that would be covered by purgatory and not prevent you from ultimately entering into God's presence. – Ben Richards Sep 6 '13 at 17:25
@BenRichards Exactly. – John Peyton Sep 7 '13 at 17:40

A priest would answer that it is not possible to know and that we cannot presume to judge. All things being equal it is more probable that the person would be damned than not, but in the case of suicide all things are never equal. Often things such as mental illness come into play, in which case culpability really comes into question.

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The Church says: Suicide is self-murder, murder is a mortal sin, to die with a mortal sin unconfessed, unforgiven means, like Jesus said about rich people: You will not enter his Father's kingdom.

Also, one cannot kill themselves and at the same moment be truly repentant of that action... Sorry, I was thinking of weaseling out with the ol' deathbed confession...

Yeah, so no heaven.

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