Funerals for someone who has committed suicide are challenging for the Christian pastor. For much of Christian history, and for much of modern Christendom, suicide is considered an “unforgivable sin”. I’m not convinced that suicide has placed someone irrevocably beyond God’s grace. There are examples of suicide in scripture where there is no negative judgment. In fact, 1 Samuel 31:4 has the account of Saul commanding his armor bearer to kill him, and when the armor bearer refuses, Saul falls upon his own sword. Some will argue that Saul was already out of favor with God. Some will make a distinction that a situation where one is likely to be killed and abused by one’s enemy is different than someone who willingly commits suicide.
Let me simply say that suicide is not a choice I recommend. I don’t think offering possible scripture passages for a funeral of a suicide victim contributes to suicide.
I’ve conducted at least 2 funerals for people who have committed suicide. I don’t remember many details of the funeral for the first one. The second one, I used Matthew 13:24-30 as the scripture text.
Matthew 13:24-30 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
The refrain, “An enemy has done this” can be very effective. We know that mental illness, including depression, can result in suicide. I’m convinced that “an enemy has done this” and the experience of the master in knowing the difference between weeds and wheat, what was planted and what was not, who a person is and what awful things have been a part of that person’s life cannot be underestimated.
At least consider it.