ASK FATHER: Confession before suicide

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

I haven’t been to confession in a long time, and I’d like to go soon. But I’ve also been very depressed and considering suicide. So I feel like one of my motivations to go would be to prepare my soul before I do that act.

Would such a confession even be valid? If one of the requirements for a valid confession is a sincere resolve to try not to sin anymore, I’m not sure I could honestly meet that requirement if I am considering suicide in the future.

Whatever I might end up doing in the future, I’d still like to be
forgiven of whatever I’ve done in the past, but it feels like this isn’t an option.

What do you suggest I do?

First, of all… just… NO.   No.  This isn’t the right path.   You simply must tell more people around you what you are thinking and then let them help you.

Next, a basic point of confession – for validity – is that you must have a firm purpose of amendment.  That is, to stop committing the sins you confess and to resolve not to sin in the future as best you can.

Contemplating suicide in s serious way, not just a fleeting moment, with coolness of mind, etc., is itself a mortal sin.  You are not the “lord” of your own life.  God gave you your life and it is His.   Killing oneself is still the killing of a human being, who happens also to be you.  There are circumstances which can mitigate the guilt of any sin, but cooly to approach thoughts of suicide suggests deep problems but not the sort which, as in a moment of despair or fright, etc., lead to self-slaughter.

Also, you cannot get absolution for a sin that you are going to commit.  As for being forgiven for past sins, if you are confessions some sins, but holding out on confession serious thoughts of suicide, then NONE of your sins are forgiven.   For absolution to be valid, we must confession ALL mortal sins in kind and number.  Deliberate withholding of a sin – that is, remembering or knowing it but refusing to say it, rather than forgetting it in a moment of nervousness, etc. – invalidates your confession and absolution.  You are either forgiven or your aren’t.  Withhold serious mortal sins – seriously contemplating suicide is a serious mortal sin, just as seriously contemplating murder is – and you are not absolved of any sins.  You can’t be partially absolved.

Remember: God cannot be fooled and eternity really is forever.  There is no changing one’s mind after the fact.  Period.  Exclamation point.  For-eh-vur.

I suggest that you a) fight these thoughts when they come up by prayers especially to the Holy Spirit.  Suicide smacks of the sin that Christ said is unforgivable: because it involves despair.   Also, b) ask other people around you, who know and want the best for you, for help.  Otherwise, call a hotline… drop into a clinic… tell a cop… tell a teacher… tell a parent… tell a priest… tell someone.

I am sure that people here will, right now, stop and pray for you.

I entrust you to the Mother of God, who loves you as her own, to intercede with the Lord to help you in whatever must be given for peace.

Your life is precious to you for the sake of your soul and heaven.  Your life is also precious to us because we are all in this together.

And…when you find your balance again do go to confession… remembering what I mentioned above.  ALL mortal sins, in number and kind with a firm purpose of amendment.  Consider what a great thing it is to receive Holy Communion – which the dead can’t do – the ultimate sacrament of the living!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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