Does God Sympathize With People Who Die by Suicide?


Does God sympathize with people who have suffered a lot in their life including those who commit suicide? Recently an actor Sushant Singh Rajput in India commited suicide. Logically suicide victim should get more sympathy as his/her life is quite bad and hence he/she takes this drastic step.

—Niraj, India


Dear Niraj,

The act of suicide surely generates sympathy and sadness. For the gift of human life is the most precious of all. For with the human body the soul has the potential to achieve the fullness of the divine promise of immortality.

“God is no tyrant,” Paramhansa Yogananda has said. Someone once asked Yogananda-ji what would be the fate of one of the world’s greatest villains (Hitler, Stalin — I forget now which). The questioner expected to hear that the punishment would be extreme, but this was not the response. Yet karma has its consequences, and the law of karma is exacting — just as are the laws of nature in the material world.

To take one’s own life is a greater tragedy, spiritually speaking, than murder. In murder one at least values one’s own life, (though not the life of another). In suicide, life itself is rejected. While in truth, life can never die because consciousness is the essence of all life and all matter, the suicide does not affirm that reality but seeks oblivion instead. In seeking self-annihilation, the suicide ultimately must fail.

It is not that God is merciless, but the gifts of life and the use of free will are such that God will not interfere with our karma until such time as we reach out to seek His grace. Then the power of the Infinite, drawn by our love, can no longer resist — for God is Love itself.

What, then, happens to this unfortunate jiva (soul)? Yogananda-ji was indeed asked this question. In the afterlife (the astral world), the one who dies by suicide (who by his act chose to cut off his connection with life, with family and all other realities), feels isolated — surrounded, as it were, in a fog of grey emptiness. And here I must digress in order to offer some perspective.

No suicide takes place under identical circumstances. Suicide can take place while a person is deranged on drugs or alcohol, or suffering with mental illness. Suicide can be a ritual exercise owing to disgrace or failure. Suicide can be a reaction to betrayal, misfortune, or love lost. Thus there are varying degrees of conscious intention or semi-rational behavior to the act of suicide.

Thus in the afterlife state, the length of time and the depth of loneliness may vary considerably depending on the consciousness of the jiva himself. The soul may in fact harbor great love for his friends, family, and this earth but feel he has failed and is no longer worthy to live. My point is that the underlying impulse to value life and goodness may arise within that jiva sooner or later, depending on how and why he died by suicide in the first place.

Yogananda said that sometimes a baby who is stillborn, or dies in the womb, or dies at an early age, might be the soul of a former incarnation who died by suicide, whose desire to live must be re-awakened by being thwarted — even repeatedly — until the desire to live becomes strong again. This is the action of the law of karma. A person who died by suicide is reborn for the simple reason that he had many unfulfilled desires, notwithstanding his act of suicide.

So I cannot say from the statements of Yogananda (or Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple and founder of Ananda worldwide) that a particular ray of mercy or compassion is sent to the soul of one who has died by suicide, but I know for a fact that there is no divine punishment meted out. The law of karma is, however, as I said earlier, exacting.

I can say this, however, and it is of vital importance: prayers for the departed, and especially one who has died by suicide, can hasten that soul’s reawakening to the beauty and value of life. All great spiritual traditions encourage prayers for those who have left this earth. Why is that?

Because in the astral after death state, the jiva is generally not very conscious and therefore not able to help himself (unless and to the degree of spiritual attainment). When we have a heart-connection and feeling for one who has passed on, we, as a conscious soul attuned to God-consciousness, can offer love, peace, and blessings to one who has left us. It is therefore we who express God’s mercy and compassion! It is our heart connection that is the residue of karma that acts to forgive and uplift that soul who, for a time, is no longer able to do so for himself.

We can also pray to enlightened Beings to join us in our prayers: a satguru (true spiritual teacher), angels, and deities.

May the divine Light shine within you!
Nayaswami Hriman