The Biblical aspects that apply with respect to suicide generally correspond with those that apply to assisting with euthanasia. In both cases it is about aiding in the termination of life, something which a Bible-believing Christian may not do. After all, life is given by God, it is a gift that we may not dispose of at will. Here are some examples from the Bible which show us that even in extremely difficult situations, it is not taking flight (suicide) but taking refuge (God) that is the appointed way:
When Job hears the news that on one single day all his children have died, he falls on the ground and bows himself while confessing: The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
When David again has to flee before his enemies and fears for his life, he expresses in his prayer that his trust (also with respect to the end of his life) is in God when he prays: My times are in thy hand.
Its irrevocable character and the often terrifying methods used result in the deed being pre-condemned by the surroundings. However, this condemnation is often the consequence of the ignorance surrounding the context within which the suicide has taken place and the lack of knowledge of the intense misery that lay at the foundation of the deed.
Biblical examples of people who saw death as an escape from the situation in which they found themselves:
When Moses feels that he can no lo longer handle the situation (the people of Israel are constantly demanding meat), he asks the Lord: ‘I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.’ (Num. 11: 14, 15). The Lord does not kill him however, but advises him to appoint 70 elders in order to relieve him of his burden.
Very early on in Saul's kingship, it becomes clear that he is an example of how it should not be done: disobedience in following Samuel's instructions (and at the heart, disobedience towards God), wanting to kill David who nota bene had been anointed king by God, consulting the woman with a familiar spirit at Endor. The absolute depths come at the end of his life, when he eventually commits suicide in an attempt to end his suffering. Clearly no blessing can rest on this.
Job's wife advised him: ‘Curse God, and die’. It could be that she is referring to suicide here, but Job gives the beautiful answer of faith: ‘Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?’ And in spite of all his trials, Job is an example for believers in distress and temptation, he has never asked the Lord to take him away.
When Paul and Silas are in prison, and an earthquake takes place so that all prisoners might escape, the keeper of the prison was about to take his own life out of pure desperation. However, Paul powerfully called upon him not to hurt himself. Through a wonder, none of the prisoners escaped.
At a certain moment Paul also had a desire to depart, but that prayer was not answered at that time. Moreover, that prayer did not reflect so much a longing for death, but for the true Life.
A Biblical answer
All in all, not only from the letter (Thou shalt not kill), but also from the spirit of God's Word it can be deduced that death as a means of escaping from suffering is not right. This is also illustrated by the wonders that the Lord Jesus did while on earth. If death had been the desirable solution for suffering, then He would certainly not have healed people (or had them healed) or raised people from death (or had them raised from death), but simply have let them ‘fall asleep’. The fact that the Lord Jesus was able to sympathise what suffering meant for people before He was crucified, is evident from His request to His Father in Gethsemane to let the cup pass away from Him.
There are examples of people who can confess with retrospect: what a wonder that the Lord saved me from committing suicide. Yet the conclusion must not be too easily drawn that this says something about the degree of their faith. This is after all no fruit from their own field!
On the other hand, we should not lightly judge those who do commit suicide, whether or not they achieved the result which they envisaged.
Is not Samson, who was only too aware of the consequences of his last act, not named in the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11?
Church history records some very nuanced things about this. ‘God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.’