Due to a couple of recent celebrity suicides, social media is abuzz with talk of depression, getting help, and suicide ideation. Through messages of mourning and helpline numbers, reminders of self-care and stories of mental health struggles, there is a group of Christians condemning people to hell.
These Christians say suicide is the only unforgivable sin. Suicide is a surefire way to burn in hell eternal. That the people we lost to suicide deserve torment because they tossed away the greatest gift of all... life. They are hurting people who are already stunned from loss or who are suffering from such severe depression they aren't certain how to survive the next hour. A lot of them do this almost gleefully.
Now, I'm not a Christian... but, here it goes.
The afterlife is supposedly a paradise. There are verdant fields, streets paved with gold, decadent feasts, and zero worries. Everyone you've ever lost waits for you. There is no pain or heartbreak. So many religions tell you if you're a good person you end up somewhere glorious after you die.
But, life can be hard. It's sometimes sad. You can work your entire life and not get anywhere. You can help people in need and find yourself without a friend when you need help the most. Life is rough.
Because life is rough, it is tempting to skip the unpleasant or horrific bits and go straight to bliss. And, since it's so tempting, religions need a fail-safe to ensure no one decides to check-out early. So, holy people/texts tell people the gods will never forgive you, and you will be denied the joy waiting for you... forever.
The "Hell Rhetoric" for suicide isn't helpful. If you're desperate enough to contemplate leaving everyone and everything you love, you're likely beyond threats of the supposed beings who won't alleviate your pain. If you lost someone to suicide, the last thing you need to hear is that your loved one still suffers.
It is callous disregard and misguided superiority that causes people to hurt others in this way. They feel they have all the answers. And they would never do something so offensive to god.
What we need to tell people who are hurting enough to kill themselves isn't about what happens if they decide to die, but what exists when they're alive. Beg them to get help. Call them every day. Spend time with them. Let them know how much they mean to you. Surround them with their favorite foods or indulgences. Do things for them they can't do because of depression (like cleaning). Talk about good memories.
Help them find the way back to themselves without threats of punishment or talk of more pain. Show them living is beautiful and worthwhile.
Maybe the people heaping more pain on those who have enough are the ones who deserve paradise in their rear view mirrors.