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Does Suicide Lead To Hell?

Does Suicide Lead To Hell?

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Question:

Is it true that if you commit suicide, you won't go to heaven? But if there is no Jewish hell, where will you go?

Answer:

I hope the reason you are asking about suicide has nothing whatsoever to do with your current state of mind or circumstances in real life. It's not a pleasant issue to be thinking about.

You write that there is no Jewish hell. Well, not exactly true. If you've ever overstuffed yourself at a Jewish simchah, the night after was certainly a form of Jewish hell. Aside from that, we find a place called Gehinom mentioned in the Bible and discussed at length in the Talmud and many classic Jewish works. Think of it as a sort of laundromat to clean up souls that have been soiled in their passage through this world. Once sparkling clean, they can continue up to their spiritual place from whence they originated, and even higher.

A soul that was involved in a serious crime, such as homicide, G‑d forbid, needs a heavy-duty wash to get back in shape. Suicide is considered just the same as any homicide—your life doesn't belong to you any more than anyone else's life belongs to you. All life belongs to the Giver of Life—and He doesn't appreciate life being destroyed wantonly.

Nevertheless, there are those who commit suicide out of extreme distress and emotional agony. Then it's left up to the Knower of All Souls (same one as the Giver of Life, a.k.a. G‑d) to know whether this person really had any free choice left in his soul. According to that knowledge will be the clean up afforded that soul.

We have a lot of answers, essays and audio classes on the Jewish understanding of hell listed here.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Rabbi Tzvi Freeman March 15, 2017

For Anonymous who wants the lights out That's called depression. It's a fake monster that tries to eat you alive.

Don't listen to it. Don't argue with it. It's a liar. Just keep going as though it doesn't exist.

It's a liar because G-d doesn't send a precious soul into this world without purpose, without hope and without His constant love. He sent you here knowing that you could succeed, if you will just put up the fight.

Just go out and do something. Ask G-d for an extra hand—He'll have compassion on you, as a parent for an only, beloved child. Reply

Anonymous March 15, 2017

I wish it was all just over. Lights out. As if I'd never been here. Reply

Zahra boise, id December 29, 2015

Dear Judy from Canada Your words touched my heart. Like many others I have found myself feeling the way you are feeling now. I can't say every prayer will be answered the way you ask. However, I can say with certainly that now more than ever is the time to praise, love, and open your heart to g-d. Don't let those tears be wasted, instead of crying alone cry to g-d. He loves us and wants our tears just as much as our joy.

I was so angry! I hated everything and everyone including g-d. I attempted suicide a few times in my teens and early twenties but the last time i nearly succeeded. Right before i fell unconscious, i couldn't move and felt such heart wrenching fear and agony that i cried out to g-d like i had never done before. I was saved that night in more ways than one.

My life is far from perfect and that's ok, I don't have to be perfect. My daily goal is to use every action to please g-d, it brings me true happiness and security, something that I never had in my life. Always remember that you are loved. Reply

Tzvi Freeman December 25, 2015

For Judy Judy, death is not an answer. Life is. Death just continues where life left off—only that the steering wheel is taken from your hands. The only way to find peace is through life, where you can make the right choices.

Find friends. Find community. Find help. Many people have been through troubles, and many have overcome them to live better, deeper lives. Reply

judy canada December 24, 2015

suicide When/if you cry each morning you wake up and cry yourself yo sleep and you pray to g-d to hear your words and help and there is NO answer. The only way to find peace is through death. Reply

menachem rephun new jersey September 14, 2014

committing suicide is not the answer but it does not make you a murderer I cannot accept that taking your own life as a consequence of unbearable emotional/physical pain puts you on the same level as a cold blooded murderer who deprives of other people of their lives out of anger or hatred. That's not to suggest that suicide is the answer to life's problems. But I believe that Hashem would have mercy on the person whose anguish was so great that they couldn't bear to live anymore. I can't believe that a just G-d would automatically condemn a person's soul to hell without feeling mercy for the suffering that person experienced in life. Reply

L Kurs nj March 4, 2014

Choosing to return my neshama Multiple Sclerosis brought me paralysis of all my limbs, lost eyesight, the loss of the ability to speak, my hearing became impaired, I was in need if a respirator and a pacemaker. I was 35 years old with two young children. If one can ignore the demands placed on all family members to care for me, if one can ignore the great expense, tension and pressure put upon my husband, if one could ignore being what some may refer to as alive when the reality is - I was basically gone, if one can ignore realizing that they are intellectually unimpaired but in every other way a goses...and if one can ignore the daily humiliating, embarrassing, dehumanizing "care" received from strangers and family alike....then perhaps suicide would never occur to them. I, on the other hand had endured enough. I wanted out and I planned the day.

Call it luck, coincidence, Hashem, providence - whatever, but three days before my appointed time to end it. I had what is not commonly expected...I happened to have experienced a spontaneous remission! In the course of ten minutes…most all physical issues resolved. On its own. No medicine. No therapy. ZIP.
Recovering just days before my planned suicide does not alter one bit my belief that if a soul wants to return the gift of life back to the one who gave the gift….I am merely elevating my soul. Reply

KT california June 13, 2013

Suicide I know there must be a hell/place destined for people like Hitler. He can't have the opportunity to go to a place for 12 months and suddenly repent, would he? there has to be a place maybe the christians are right at least they are believing that monsters like childmolester, serial killers, and others like it would be in a special place like that. what do you think? where is Hitler? Reply

louise leon long pond, PA via jewishpoconos.com October 4, 2011

suicide and the soul I believe that since suicide can only destroy our physical being and not our soul, G-d's love for our soul remains unchanged no matter what. I am the last person,however, to encourage suicide in any way despite my previous comment. Having "been there" (suicidal) and not only survived but re-invented myself into a person I respect, I feel that the journey was and is worth the investment. Reply

bing indonesia September 29, 2011

The title reminded me of the time when I thought of why people committed suicide. I felt my mind went into darkness when I tried to understand what they might have thought, and I felt the slight urge to kill myself and I stopped the whole thing.. I thought, and still do think, it was evil. Reply

Jonathan Axelsson Stockholm, Sweden September 22, 2011

No hell or purgatory but rather hospital? I read some words from an old man long ago who had insights himself after a NDE. He came to understand that the soul after living here on Earth collecting wounds and sorrows had to heal his soul after the transition to the spiritual realm.
For a time the soul must be given time to heal the emotional wounds she suffered in life and be free from emotional injuries. This before the soul can move on.
That sounds like the ideas of our old rabbis, don't you think? Thank you Rabbi Tzvi. Reply

bing indonesia July 30, 2011

for jeffrey I believe he's in the good hands now. Don't worry.:) Reply

Jeffrey Craig Perlman miami, Fl, USA July 27, 2011

suicide My dear nephew just committed suicide. He suffered from a genetic disorder and as a result, social skills and coping were real issues. Nonetheless, he did his best. Overwhelmed with an unsuccessful job search just out of college, he blamed himself, thought his life was falling apart and took his life. I pray that the Knower who is also the Knowledge, has judged him favorably and that HaShem has freed his n'shema from this condition and that he has a seat with the scholars and Tzdakkim. In this way, a soul finds peace and a wound that never heals in us all, may move us to love our fellow even more and hasten the coming of Moshiach. Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman (author) December 23, 2010

Re: Masada suicide Actually, the debate has been going on much longer among the rabbis themselves. King Saul committed suicide rather than allow himself to be captured by the Philistines. Did he do the right thing? You'll find opinions either way among our sages. Reply

Danny Tel-Aviv, Israel December 22, 2010

Masada suicide I was having a debate with a roommate about suicide and whether its permissible under extreme conditions, such as possible enslavement or torture/murder. Did the suicide at Masada violate Jewish law or is there some sort of leniency given the circumstances? Reply

Norm S. Orl. , Fl August 1, 2010

answer for a prev. question Well said. But I believe this answer is what you should have answered to "Am I going to burn in hell?"
Where and why is it written for a suicide not to be buried in a jewish cemetery? Though i do somewhat understand about the taking of a life, especially one's own. Reply

Carol Shapiro Escondido, CA via chabadpoway.com December 8, 2009

suicide is acceptable to G-d in the face of illnes I wish I could recall the source offhand, but I did previously research this & although it is akin to homicide, G-d views it differently in the case of illness. My interpretation was that it essentially wasn't a volitional act. Mental illness superseded the capacity for choice. I prefer to view it that way - maybe that is my rationale. I have a sick father who really can't stand his existence, and I wish that there was a Dr. K to help him out of his misery... or that he'd move to Oregon or some equally liberal and generous state that treats humans at least as good as animals are treated... Reply

Anonymous Chicago, Ill December 2, 2009

becoming a jew I very much Love what i do know about being a Jew however it is what i do not know that I wonder about. Specifically the Talmund. Reply

Margaret Adelaide, Australia November 17, 2009

Does Suicide lead to hell I do not believe in my heart and soul that any Jewish person who has commited suicide will end up any where but heaven. The Bible calls G-d merciful and I see G-d as being greater than man.
If man can feel compassion and love and want the best for his fellow man, then how much more would G-d feel for His own people?????? I don't believe that our loving merciful G-d would take a human who has lived centuries of hate and send H-m anywhere but into the loving arms of Abraham. There Abraham will console a broken spirit... Reply

Anonymous Aurora, CO November 14, 2009

The answers to my question Many, many times I have tried to end my life by overdosing on medication. I suffer from severe depression. I take medication, talk to psychologists and even go to psychiatric hospitals when my depression gets unbearable. However, nothing has worked so far. I am in a lot of physical and mental pain. I wish I could find a way to end it and finally be at PEACE Reply