Please note that if you are someone with a history of suicidal thoughts and you find that reading about suicide is a trigger for you, you may wish to skip reading this article.
Because there is no Central Pagan Doctrine, or Big Book o’ Pagan Rules, it’s hard to say specifically what the “Pagan perspective” on suicide – or much of anything else – is. There’s not any sort of doctrinal perspective that is universal to all Pagans. That having been said, there are a few things to keep in mind.
In many Pagan paths, including but not limited to Wicca, there is the concept of personal responsibility. This means we make our choices – good or bad – and then we are responsible for the consequences of those actions. We are responsible for how our actions impact not only us, but those we might leave behind.
Some traditions of Wicca hold to the idea of “harm none,” so one might perhaps argue that the adage of harming none would preclude committing suicide – after all, the case could be made that killing oneself is a harmful act. It could also be viewed as harmful to the survivors, who must deal with the pain of their loved one’s death. On the flip side of this, suicide is something that people do not typically choose lightly – it is usually an action of last resort, something which is done when the emotional or physical pain becomes too much to bear.
Most Pagan religions disavow any notion of punishment in the afterlife. While there may be some Karmic lessons that hold true, it’s unlikely that someone who is a Pagan would believe someone will be punished for the act of committing suicide. Obviously, this depends on the belief systems of the individual.
Much like other controversial issues – abortion, the death penalty, etc. – there is no one Pagan perspective on this matter. The viewpoints are as varied as the people who follow Pagan traditions. It’s also possible that even an individual Pagan might have conflicting viewpoints on the subject – for instance, someone may be opposed to suicide in general but support it if chosen by a terminally ill individual.
While most Wiccan and Pagan leaders are spiritual counselors, the majority are not trained in treating someone who is considering suicidal actions. Please seek professional help in the appropriate venue. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide – Pagan or not – please take the time to call the Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.
Also be sure to read about Pagans and Self-Injury.