A Reader recently wrote:
A friend of a friend of mine recently killed herself. My friend, raised in a Christian environment, knows from what she has been taught that people who commit suicide wind up in the worst part of Hell.
What is the Buddhist perspective on suicide?
And my response:
Suicide is bad, no matter what perspective you have.
Buddhists do not have a Hell, at least not in the same way Christians do, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t repercussions. Remember, the very first Noble Truth is that all life if suffering. Suffering is the norm, not the exception. Many people in the West have been trained (more and more so through the media) that life should be happy and wonderful, and if it isn’t, then something is wrong. This is very misleading. Life is life; sometimes it’s wonderful, but that’s just not a sustainable goal. All life is suffering; you can avoid it for a while, but not forever.
Buddhists don’t go to hell. They do, however, have to deal with karma and rebirth. Suicide causes a great deal of suffering, both to yourself and those left behind. Causing suffering brings on bad karma, and chances are that if you’re suffering now, a bad rebirth will only make things worse.
It sounds awful to say that suffering is normal, and that you should ‚Äúsuck it up and move on,‚Äù but that’s really the only solution. Life is suffering, but there is an end to suffering, and that end is the eightfold path. Meditation can be a big help with combating depression, but medication and therapy can be as much of a help as more Buddhist solutions. Just because we’re Buddhist does not mean we cannot take advantage of modern medicine and treatments too. But as we all know, you have to make an effort to get better, and with depression, that’s not easy. Nothing is easy with depression.