Christian Suicide

I went to Wheaton College – a big Evangelical Christian College in Illinois.   I had just graduated but was still living near campus. I was going to move off campus and live the next year in Wheaton with a friend who was going to be a senior. During that next year, to make money to pay back loans, I was working days as a High School biology teacher and nights as a restaurant waiter. I never owned a car until ten years after college and that night I was riding my bike back from the restaurant job but a long train was stopped on the tracks blocking my return. I waited 10 minutes or so but the train did not budge. So I threw the bike over my shoulders and daringly climbed over the train.

That night I bragged to some friends about my daring climb and they told me they had just heard that the reason the train was stopped was because it ran over a student. The student was my future roommate. My world stood still.

My friend had been raised in Taiwan as the child of Christian missionaries. But Taiwan had changed him — and this is one of the reasons I was so attracted to him. But he did not fit well into Wheaton. He felt comfortable incorporating Taoist thoughts and did not believe non-believers would go to Hell. This was painful for his girlfriend too who felt his Christianity was unstable and she broke up with him two months earlier.  Believing the right thing was very important at Wheaton.

The train conductor said my friend stood calmly on the tracks facing the train, sat down slowly on the tracks and laid his legs and neck across the rails. The conductor said he slammed on the brakes 1/4 mi before impact but could not stop the train.

Sometimes it is important to understand someone’s background when arguing philosophical issues.  For it is our daily life and our history that feeds our beliefs much more than tight logic.



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19 responses to “Christian Suicide

  1. So sad. I’m so glad I no longer feel compelled to believe the right thing or convinced that I, somehow, have THE truth.

    I’m reminded of a time in my life when I had a discussion with a friend at Bible study about suicide. He was firmly convinced that suicide was a one way ticket to hell, because you couldn’t repent of it being dead and all. I said that was silly, because it was impossible to remember every sin, and that Christ had payed the price for all sin, not just the ones we can remember and repent of. He agreed with me and then said something that gave me pause in the future when it came to debating. He said, “My belief that I would go to hell is the only thing that kept me from killing myself.” To my knowledge, he’s still alive today, and that was many years ago.

  2. Sabio

    Hey Mike,
    I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from Christians that they would seriously have to consider suicide if their theology was wrong.

    Personally, I think they grossly underestimate all the other non-theological factors that play into their happiness, meaning and lifestyle.

  3. Brakeman

    Did none of the believers offer to bring him back from the dead? Why not? Didn’t jesus give them the power to do miracles?

  4. This explains so much.

  5. @ Brakeman
    I am not sure he would have wanted to be brought back, though I would have selfishly wanted that. And as you know, the god of Abraham may have been reported to have healed the sick but not the disfigured — no amputees etc.

    FYI Readers
    My site offers Atheists posts to dismiss me as superstitious. I also offer posts so Christians can fit me into their box as a typical Apostate. It seems Aaron (a doctrine cop of Orthodox Christianity) has found such comfort in this post.

    @ Aaron
    I don’t mean to complicate your nice comfortable understanding, but I was already calling myself “Not a Christian” by the time my friend killed himself. Maybe it was Yahweh’s punishment. But if you need more material to understand my tormented soul, here is another friend’s suicide that help bring me close to Jesus. And I actually have lots more stories of suffering if you can’t seem to make the pieces of my soteriological puzzle fit tightly enough together in your framework.

  6. bataille9

    @Aaron – What does it explain?

    @Sabio – I agree completely with your concluding remark. Moreover, it is funny how intense experiences influence different people in different ways. For example, if one’s Christianity is waning, having a friend die in such circumstances might be enough to completely push one person over the edge in reaction to the damage such absurd exclusivity can cause, while another person might reaffirm their faith, taking the death as a sign of what happens when one “strays”. Yes, predisposition is everything.

  7. imarriedaxtian

    We all build mental constructs about ourselves to help sustain our own self-esteem in a world that could care less about us. A neglected or abused child may create imaginary friends for comfort.

    A person may feel that he has a calling from his god to be a defender of the faith. Such a move necessitates that he construct an “armour” around himself that can fend off ridicule.

    I used to take pleasure in poking holes through the armour. But not anymore. Not since I married a lovely and gracious woman, who unfortunately view life and its travails through the prism of her faith.

    I feel very sad about your friend who had his construct of his self-worth torn away from him. I wonder what it would be like if he had met an older and wiser Sabio who could counsel. comfort and mentor him through that difficult period.

  8. Sabio, I think you may have misread Mike’s first comment, I think he was agreeing with your last paragraph. The individual was saying his fear of hell kept him from killing himself, believing that hell was the destination of someone who committed suicide.

    I have also hear though people who said they would kill themselves if they didn’t have their faith. I am sure both are true for some.

    Aaron’s comment sounds condescending, as it stands now without further explanation.

  9. I’ve also heard people say they would do all sorts of terrible things if they didn’t have their faith.

  10. geoih

    A very sad story. Personally, to kill yourself over something as silly as religion (my opinion) seems a terrible tragedy. Perhaps his relationship with his girl friend was what really influenced his decision. Rejection can be devastating.

    But it is easy to look at another person’s situation and think that such a drastic solution is out of proportion. Anybody who has stared into the abyss and contemplated the ultimate ending will never judge another’s situation as trivial. The best you can hope for is to recognise the magnitude of the other person’s situation and try to convince them of other possibilities.

  11. I wasn’t even referring to the suicide… but it’s context.

  12. Temaskian

    It was a pity that the Christian did not see fit to survive for a while longer. Liberal Christians are generally happier in the long run. Too bad he was a liberated Christian in a conservative crowd, and that he did not have enough time or opportunity to distance himself from that group.

    I was lucky in that I was rather forcibly evacuated by the church I offended by bringing out my doubts into the public sphere. It probably saved me from a lot of anguish from having to harbor the doubts secretly, or having to bear them while pretending to ‘agree to disagree’.

    @Alex: I wasn’t particularly concerned with your first remark, but now that quite a few have called attention to it, you should probably clarify yourself more than what you’re doing. Since you were not referring to the suicide, what were you referring to? Or are you being intentionally cryptic?

  13. @Temaskian I think you mean Aaron when you said Alex. I went and re-read the comments looking for an Alex. 😉

  14. Temaskian


    Oh my, do excuse me, it’s 4am over here. Yes, I did mean Aaron. Sorry to make you look for a non-existent person. Only religionists should do that, lol. Joke. Err.. you’re not a Christian, by any chance?

  15. can’t imagine dawg, what a painful story. thanks for sharing and i’ll do my best to hold other’s beliefs loosely and with care. they have these beliefs for a reason and to lose them… well, yeah….

  16. @Temaskian Atheist ex-Christian here, so no longer am I a Christian.

  17. Temaskian

    @ Mike, same here. Thanks for clarifying.

  18. societyvs

    Thats a a very tragic story – I really feel sorry for all involved in that. This kid lost his life and I am not sure the people around him quite understood what it was he was going through (seemed to be a lot of rejection going on).

  19. Hello Sabio, it wasn’t until now that I realized I had read this story a few months ago. I am so sorry about the loss of your dear friend. I’m sorry that he felt so much conflict between what he thought and what he was told to believe that he just couldn’t handle it anymore. I know Bible colleges can strip away at a student’s identity. “Die to self” sounds noble, but its results can be destructive. Thank you for sharing this story.

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