Monday, October 1, 2012

Religious Rants: Suicide

The Bridge at Sunset
Today is October 1, which for the last nine years has been an incredibly difficult day for me. In 2003, my best friend, at the age of 17 was killed in a car accident. It only makes sense then, that I would post about something death related...

It was Winter in Maine when Laura (my sister, I'm just going to start referring to her as Laura from here on out, okay?) and I were chatting on Facebook. She was in Michigan and I was supposed to be studying for Final Exams (Organic Chemistry, to be exact), but decided to slack off a usual.

"Whoa," she typed. "Sarah Hunter (name change for respect) committed suicide."

I stared at her words, and stared at the name. Sarah was a girl I'd attended youth group with. She'd driven me a couple of times when no one else could. We were friends. And she killed herself.

"What happened?" I typed back as tears stung my eyes.

"I'm not sure, I'm looking into it."

At long last, the dam burst, and I started crying, sobbing. I cried for Sarah, who had always been soft spoken and slow to smile. I cried for me, who only a few months before had been committed to a psych ward of a hospital for "attempted suicide". She was so pretty, and so young. We would sit in her car and chat before and after youth group. And she was dead.

The Mackinac Bridge
In Michigan, there is a lovely place called Mackinac Island. I've been there once and tried a million different kinds of fudge (and got a horrible tummy ache). But to get to the island, you have to cross the Mackinac Bridge.

Just before Christmas, and either just before or after her birthday, Sarah had driven her car to the bridge, walked, and then jumped into the icy water below. To my knowledge her body wasn't found.

"Did you know her?" Laura typed, as I sat on my beaten in couch crying.

"Yes, we went to youth group together."

"I'm sorry. I didn't know you knew her."

We chatted for awhile longer while I sat there crying. Eventually I made my way outside and started chain smoking. This could have been me. This could have been me. My mind was reeling. Though I'd been committed for attempted suicide, I maintained that I wasn't trying, I'd just cut myself too deep. But just because I wasn't trying that day didn't mean I hadn't tried before. It also didn't mean that I wasn't considering it on a daily basis.

Months later I was on the Outer Banks of North Carolina when PostSecret shared a voicemail. It was the last phone call a young girl made to her boyfriend before she killed herself. On it, she stated, "I'm so sorry, please know this wasn't your fault. There was nothing you could have done." Her voice cracked as she spoke, and I listened to the voicemail on repeat, fighting my own urge to cry.

The voice mail removed any doubt in my mind that before Sarah jumped she was looking at the black water, sobbing. I know this because as I walked to the beach my sophomore year of college to drown myself, I was sobbing. She might have screamed on the way down, or maybe she was quiet. She could have jumped feet first, or head first.

But the church we'd gone to told me that suicides go to Hell, and I was supposed to believe that my friend was now burning for eternity for committing this grievous act. Not only had she had a rough life and lost her battle to depression, now she was going to suffer. Forever. Even though she probably cried on her way out of this world.

My faith at that moment became something like a pencil and snapped in half.

I've known God my entire life. I've loved him, prayed to Him almost every night. And yet I was supposed to believe that this Being that I've loved would torture someone who'd already been tortured?

No. No way.

And so like my belief that Harry Potter is demonic, I stopped believing that suicides go to Hell, simply because I need to believe in something that would take compassion on my friends. I need to believe that He would understand why we made these decisions, and that He truly is as epic as the Bible tells me He is.

I think this song pretty much sums up this entire post:

"What about me and all my friends, are we all sinners if we sin? Does it even matter in the end, if we're unhappy?"
~Noah Gunderson

Happy Monday.


  1. I think the most important thing to remember is that Jesus came to remove the bonds of the Law from us. God is Love and not bound by Law.

    When I was in high school, there was a girl that used to come to youth group sometimes. I didn't really know her; I didn't even know her name. However, as it was told to me by some of her friends, I was always very nice to her, and she had a bit of a crush on me at some point.
    Anyway... at some point she committed suicide, and I felt so bad I had no idea whom they were talking about when they told me. Like I said, I didn't know her name.

    1. I felt bad in this case, she and I hadn't talked in years..and I live in this little bubble where everything is okay until it's not... :/

      It's sad. Suicide is the saddest way to go...

  2. I think it's sad that anyone would say that suicide victims go to hell. No one is the judge of that, no one but God himself.

    I have no words and this song is just so sad that all I can do is feel your pain and hug you virtually. Lots of lovely thoughts headed your way.

    1. ::Hugs back::

      Thank you for your kind words. And the song wrecks me, but it was very fitting in this case. Noah Gunderson is amazing. Hope all is well!

  3. Gripping and emotional. Sorry for your loss. Glad you're able to overcome this. Hope the day ends on a better note :)

  4. Wow. This is such a sad post. I have a lot of respect for you though in not just blindly following the word of the church. I think it's important for people to make up their own minds.

    I'm agnostic, but I think faith is an amazing thing. I wish I could scrounge up some myself, but i can't seem to. However, I do have some belief in something--I'm just not sure what.

    But, like you, I can't believe in a God who would send a gay person to hell, or make someone who suffered so much in life that they were wiling to die to stop hurting, go to hell and burn for eternity. That makes no sense to me. No compassionate God could do that. Anyway, this was a really good post. Beautiful song at the end here...


Please know that if you comment and I don't respond, it's not because I don't love you. It's because I don't have wifi, but I do have a bad memory.

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