Mortal Sin Against the Fifth Commandment – Suicide/Euthanasia
The Fifth Commandment: “You Shall Not Kill”
Attempting or Intending Suicide
Serious Entertainment of Suicidal Thoughts
Promotion of or Involvement in Euthanasia
First and foremost, I understand that suicide is a touchy subject. But regardless, suicide is a mortal sin and this needs to be addressed. Sin is sin and in condoning it to not hurt someone else’s feelings, allows for someone else to believe that it is okay to commit this act. It simply isn’t beneficial to anyone. If you happen to know someone who has committed suicide, this isn’t a post to hurt you. It is a post to help prevent others to experience your pain and save souls.
Suicide is a mortal sin because it is self-murder. Murder as we discussed a few posts back is an obvious mortal sin against the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Murder”. You intentionally take the life of someone, though with suicide you intentionally are taking your own life or are trying to take your own life.
Attempting to kill oneself constitutes grave matter. If you are successful you are dead and thus have committed a grave sin without repenting of it. Likewise if you attempt and fail, you still have committed a mortal sin due to your attempt to take an innocent human life. I can not think of a time in which suicide would be deemed a heroic act. No matter how you look at the situation, it ends with your attempt at intentionally taking a life, even if it is your own.
We know from sacred scripture and tradition that Judas hanged himself after Jesus was handed over to be scourged and eventually crucified:
Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? Look to it yourself.” Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself. Matthew 27:5-7
Jesus even mentions in Matthew 26:24 that it would have been better had Judas not been born: “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed: it were better for him, if that man had not been born.” There is most definite punishment for Judas.
In regards to serious entertainment of thought of suicide, it is to be made clear that this is not just a brief or passing thought. This is when you have the thought and you hold on to it. You start planning out how you would go about doing it. Like Jesus said in regards to lust that “He who lusts after a woman commits adultery in his heart…” so to if you think about killing yourself and planning it out, you have committed murder/suicide in your heart.
Let me be very, very clear here. If you are actively fighting against planning it out, you are not committing a mortal sin. The seriousness of the sin is when you stop resisting and fighting the temptation. I highly suggest that if it is common for suicidal thoughts to pop into your head you should talk to a priest first and take his advice. Perhaps based on his suggestion, you may need to seek professional help.
Euthanasia or assisted suicide is when an individual wants to die and they get someone to “put them down” like Old Yeller. Being in favor of or actually engaging in this puts your soul at risk. If suicide is murder against the self, than “assisted” suicide is plain murder. It is the deliberate killing of another human being. It is wrong and evil regardless of who is committing the heinous act. It is never merciful to end a human life. The ends (ending the pain and suffering) does not justify the means (killing an innocent person).
Many argue about being in pain from cancer, but as Catholics we recognize that we have our crosses to bear. When we unfortunately are given a death sentence with an incurable disease, it is actually a blessing in disguise as it gives us the time to amend our lives and prepare for our deaths. If you knew that you were going to die this Saturday at 5pm, would you not spend your last days repenting of your sins and making amends with God?
Historically, suicide has been viewed as a cowardly way to go out. Instead of facing what is ailing you head on, you “opt-out” of life. It is an insult to those who have gone through the same thing before you and endured. It is selfish in that you only think about yourself, and not those around you who may be willing to offer up prayers or help you. It leaves wounds in your family and friends’ life.
There is always hope if you pour yourself out to God. If you are feeling depressed, go to confession and confess your sins. I have found many times that depression is a healthy response to committing sins. It is a sign of guilt. Let Christ take that from you.
If you happen to know someone who has committed suicide, I am deeply sorry. I would suggest you offer up prayers for the repose of their soul, assuming that they were not in complete mortal sin. That is 1. Had full consent of the will, 2. Full knowledge that suicide was evil and 3. The act was evil (suicide is an evil act so this one will always reign true). Pray for them. Again, this post is meant as a preventative measure to help prevent more pain from suicide.