A week and a half ago I completed Session 10 of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Timeline Study... and I'm rather behind in my bible reading, so I'll be pulling a late nighter tonight to try to catch up for next week's session. Last time, we completed the book of Judges. Rather rough reading. It is a time in Israel's history when they have fallen away from God and "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes". It was the ultimate moral relativism! (Hmmm, not too far off from today, actually... in light of a lot of our recent legislation...) But back to the point... The story of the Concubine's wife in Judges 19 is perhaps one of the most harrowing old testament stories I have ever read. My jaw actually dropped as I read it.
And then there was the intriguing life of Samson... the most well-known Israelite Judge. Samson's colorful life is chronicled in Judges 13-16. His death by suicide is one of the 7 suicides mentioned in the Holy Bible and after praying to God for vengeance for the loss of his eyes, goes like this:
Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life. (Judges 16:30)
The other 6 out of 7 suicides in the Bible are as follows:
Abimelech in Judges 9:54 - Then he called hastily to the young man his armor-bearer, and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, 'A woman killed him'" And his young man thrust him through, and he died.
Saul in 1 Samuel 31:4 - Therefore Saul took his own sword, and fell upon it.
Saul's armour-bearer in 1 Samuel 31:5 - And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword, and died with him.
Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17:23 - And he set his house in order, and hanged himself; and he died, and was buried in the tomb of his father.
Zimri in 1 Kings 16:18 - And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king's house, and burned the king's house over him with fire, and died
Judas in Matthew 27:5 - And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.
Samson's death was different than the rest of these. He prayed to God as he committed this act and Samson is actually praised in Hebrews 11:32, so to me it is very doubtful that he would be in hell right now. (Judas, may be another story, however....)
Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about Suicide:
"We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. (CCC 2283)"