It seems to be a popular notion in some Christian circles and to some extent in the culture at large, that if there is an unpardonable sin, then it must be suicide. This has always baffled me, because there is no biblical evidence for this idea whatsoever. In the passage about sinning against the Holy Spirit, which Jesus says is the only sin that will not be pardoned, there is no mention of suicide in any shape, form or fashion. Also, the sin of taking of a human life, of which suicide is a subset, is nowhere said to be unpardonable. On the contrary, David and Paul are both pardoned though both engaged in murder. Where then does this concept come from?
I think it may come from folk Roman Catholicism and the idea of mortal sin. I say folk Roman Catholicism because the official teaching of the RC church is more sophisticated, But I think this is how many RC lay people understand things and this has affected the culture at large
Roman Catholicism teaches there are two kinds of sin: mortal sins and venial sins. The mortal sins are the really bad ones that will send you to hell. Your only hope of salvation from a mortal sin is that you confess your sin to the priest and receive absolution. In the case of suicide, you have no opportunity to confess your sin to a priest after you have committed the sin. Since without absolution from the priest there is no opportunity for forgiveness, then suicide must be the one sin that is unpardonable.
There are multiple problems with this position:
1) The Bible makes no distinction between mortal and venial sins. All sins are mortal. All sins deserve hell.
2) The Bible does not say we must confess our sins to a priest for them to be pardoned. Instead it says we must confess our sins to Jesus and believe in him as Savior to be forgiven.
3) The Bible does not say we must verbally confess every individual sin that we have ever committed for them to be pardoned. We don’t even know all our sins nor can we remember all of them well enough to perfectly ask for forgiveness for each one specifically. Salvation is not based on the perfection of our confession. Forgiveness and pardon are given to us as an act of God’s unmerited grace to the one who reaches out to him in faith and his grace covers all our sins known and unknown.
Please let me quickly add that of course we should confess our general sinful nature and our individual sins daily to the Lord. I am simply saying none of us can do this perfectly. If perfect confession is the only thing that merits forgiveness, we would all perish. Instead, God takes our contrite heart and our faith in the work of Christ for us upon the cross, as a covering for all our sin past, present and future. This covering extends to suicide should a believer succumb to that temptation.
Also, do not take this argument to mean that suicide is not wrong. Suicide is wrong. It is a breaking of the sixth commandment: thou shall not murder. But there is no evidence in Scripture that suicide is the unpardonable sin as there is no evidence that murder is the unpardonable sin.
We are always looking to divide sins into the real bad ones and the ones that are more acceptable. The real bad ones are the ones we have not committed, of course. The really bad people do them. We only commit minor sins that won’t keep us out of heaven. We are basically good. Since we have not committed suicide, we make that a really bad sin that allows us to glory in our relative goodness. The truth is, all our sins deserve God’s wrath and curse and the only hope any of us have is to throw ourselves on the mercy of God. I believe a true believer struggling with depression, who succumbs to the temptation of suicide has committed a horrible sin, but not one that is beyond the saving blood of Christ.