We offer for our reader’s attention a chapter from the book by Danion Vasile, Youth and Sexuality: Questions and Answers (Danion Vasile. Tinerii şi sexualitatea: Întrebări şi răsnusuri. Editura Lucman, 2006).
—My boyfriend broke up with me. He left me for a another girl, although I fulfilled all his desires. I was a virgin when we met. I’ve tried to kill myself twice, but I couldn’t. I thought I would get revenge on him that way. Now I again think about suicide because my life has no meaning without him, but I’ve heard that all suicides go to hell. Is that true?
—Before I answer that question, I’ll make a small digression. Some time ago, a young man I knew called me after making great efforts to find my phone number. One evening he called me, and we had the saddest conversion I’ve ever had in my whole life. He said the following:
“I have a serious illness. I have endured it many years, but I can’t go on any longer. I ask you, tell me what prayer I need to read so that God would take me; because if He doesn’t, I’ll kill myself. I’ve already decided on it. I don’t need you to feel sorry for me, but you just don’t know what I’ve had to endure all these years. And now, this is it—I’ve lost my patience. Tell me what prayer to read. Or should I kill myself?
I talked with him a long time but I couldn’t convince him he has not been given the authority to dispense with his own life; only God can do that. He believed in God but categorically resolved to kill himself; and perhaps he’s already done it.1 Because prayer is not some magic spell; you can’t say a prayer and then just die. Prayer is first and foremost the readiness to accept God’s will; it is a request for the strength to fulfill God’s will, no matter how many temptations are set before you.
I was simply shaken by my conversation with this young man. I so wanted to convince him to give up his decision. After all, there are moments when a man’s life might depend on one kind word. Nevertheless, I understood that the chances of kind word being pleasant to him were slim, because the mind of a person who is contemplating suicide is not clear, it’s darkened by the devil. Therefore, it’s better for people to know beforehand about how serious the sin of suicide is, so that the impulse would not arise.
Suicides go to hell not because God is mean and really wants to send them there, but because they preferred their own will and not God’s. And because their minds gave in to the devil’s deception (otherwise they wouldn’t kill themselves), they send themselves to hell.
It would be better if you would read the following words first, in a peaceful setting. Perhaps if you would understand in time what suicide is, you wouldn’t be making these attempts. But whatever the case, it is God’s mercy that held you back, and not some incident.
Usually those who don’t succeed in taking their own lives fall into worse despair, become even more nervous and introverted. But there are also those who realize that God saved them, even though they had attempted to leave this life. There are also those who reason that if God wants them to stay alive, then their attempt won’t succeed. But then the attempt succeeds; because they placed their bets on luck, they were asking help from the devil, and not from God.
When you begin to think about suicide, remember that pain and suffering on earth is a thousand times lighter than pain and suffering in the next world. And also remember that suicides go to hell; they are not given a Christian funeral because they renounced God by this act, and died as non-Christians.
Suicide is pain, pain, and again pain. It is a pain much more terrible than you can imagine. You can’t kill yourself to avoid pain. If you only knew what torments await suicides in hell, you would certainly no longer want to kill yourself.
And know that I am not some sort of theoretical moralizer. I don’t need to make myself out to be smart before you—when I was growing closer to the Church, I myself had thoughts of suicide. So, I know about those torments, which keep you up at night. You can laugh at me, but I was hurt most of all by the meanness of people around me, by their lack of love. I could literally feel that I was suffocating in this world where everyone is occupied with their own problems, their own lives, and no one even thinks to take a look around them; if you don’t count the sinners who look around for partners to share in their indecency.
Yes, it was very painful for me to see this lack of love among Christians who often go to church, read their prayer rules every day, frequently go to confession and receive Communion, but all as a formality. It was simply horrible to think that I could also turn into the same sort of icy-hearted person.
When evil thought overcame me, I prayed desperately: “Lord, deliver me from thoughts of suicide, because I simply won’t be able to withstand them…” But my thoughts became stronger, and I prayed again; they got stronger again, and I prayed once again—and it went on like that until they left me alone.
My greatest support in this came from one spiritual father. I was ashamed to confess such thoughts to him—even more ashamed of them than lustful thoughts. But I knew that if I don’t confess them, they might become deeds.
You want to end your life because your boyfriend broke up with you. But what will you accomplish by killing yourself? You want to get revenge. But you’ll only get revenge on yourself and not him. He’ll only be glad to be rid of his “crazy” girlfriend and go on having fun with his new one. Vengeance, no matter what it is, never does any good. You would do better to think about how you’re going get yourself out of this dead end.
Perhaps you don’t see any way out; perhaps it seems to you that you’re faced with impenetrable gloom. Do not despair. Pray to God that He would help you get out of this abyss of sadness. You also have a chance, even if you don’t see that chance. Be patient, and for your prayers, God will help you see that chance.
In any case you should know that many people who have fallen into despair, who have lost all hope, have in a moment of enlightenment understood that a good solution was right next to them, but they didn’t see it because they were too bewildered and upset.
Yes, you were a virgin and now you’re not; you had a beloved and not you don’t. But has life ended with this? No! Have you gotten old, sick with rheumatism, all your teeth have fallen out, hair gone gray, and you won’t be able to find another guy? Of course you can. Life goes on. So don’t despair. Ask God to help you, go to confession, and start a new life.
You have to understand that life without God is a sad life, a kind of slow suicide of everything beautiful in you. With that boyfriend of yours you tried a life of pleasures, life in sin, and it ended badly. Because the end of sin is pain—don’t forget about that. This end was the natural outcome, but the cause was your sin. And never mind that your girlfriends live for years in sin and nothing happens to them. Suffering comes according to the measure of sin.
So, take yourself in hand, take courage, and go forward. God will help you. Life is wonderful. “La vita e bella”, as it says in the title of one of my favorite films (it was produced by Roberto Benigni, maybe you’ve also seen it).
Yes, life is beautiful…
“But what if it’s not beautiful but harsh, cruel, and merciless?”
Then it’s important to understand that life can be beautiful. Yes, because wounds can be healed, and pain can go away. It’s all a matter of knowing what road to choose.