How does your faith deal with the issue of suicide?
Answer: Although we can
all understand wanting to be delivered from the world’s afflictions in
moments of great anguish, the Bahá’í Faith, like all its sister
religions, forbids suicide. The commands against non-violence that
exist in all the world’s religions, include the prohibition against
harming oneself. Our life is a sacred trust that is best discharged
when we follow divine laws and precepts. Suicide is particularly tragic
when a young person takes his or her own life. The statistics
concerning the death of teens are alarming; suicide is the second cause
of death among teenagers. Only accidental deaths are higher.
One of the many intangibles lacking in our comfort-seeking,
materialistic society is a “philosophy” of life’s tests and
difficulties. Physical or mental pain is rejected as an unwanted evil
to be avoided at all costs. But people of all ages need to realize that
suffering is an essential characteristic of life in this world.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the son of the Prophet-Founder, Bahá’u’lláh
(1817-1892), and the interpreter of his teachings, said in Paris in
1911: “Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance, they are sent to
us by the Divine Mercy for our own perfecting” (Paris Talks, p. 50).
Our tests, he went on to say, may be used as “stumbling blocks or
stepping stones,” depending on how we accept them — or not.
What we should not do is to play God regarding the fate of those who
take their own lives. God is both compassionate and just. While
self-harm may be seen as a lost opportunity that interferes with the
growth opportunities of our normal lifespan, any Bahá’í who commits
suicide does not cease to be a Bahá’í. No prejudice accrues to such a
person regarding burial rites.
In a letter written to a woman whose husband had taken his life,
‘Abdu’l-Bahá showed both understanding and compassion: “…Thus it is
seen that some, under extreme pressure of anguish, have committed
suicide. As to him rest assured; he will be immersed in the ocean of
pardon and forgiveness and will become the recipient of bounty and
favour” (Bahá’í World Faith, p. 378). But every remedy should be sought
to alleviate overwhelming conditions. -