The Karmic Consequences of Suicide


At the present moment, our planet is entering a phase of great changes and uncertainty. The changes and events will eventually lead humanity into a new age of hope and possibilities. But for this new age to even be possible, it is first necessary to shake ourselves free from some of the old structures and systems that are no longer working. And that is what is occurring now.

Frankly speaking, change is never easy because change leads us into the unknown. Additionally, these drastic changes that are coming are understandably destructive. There must be a tearing down before there can be a rebuilding. For many people, it will seem that their lives have been ruined. The possibility that their lives are in fact just beginning is simply outside the perception of the majority of those affected by these changes.

This upcoming period of change will almost definitely result in an increase of fear among many people. There will be loss, grief, and a sense of hopelessness. This period of apparent chaos is also likely to result in an increase of people who decide to take their own lives. I would therefore like to explain – in practical terms – the karmic consequences of committing suicide.

Karmic Consequences

This article will mainly focus on the consequences of committing suicide in order to escape from the seemingly unbearable pain of life. Generally this pain is emotional, but it may be physical pain as well. There are other reasons to kill oneself, including the motive to “get back” at another person or people. In these cases, the karmic consequences will take into account such motivations, and inevitably be more difficult to deal with.

In almost all cases, committing suicide is a purely selfish act. I am not saying this as a judgement, but as an observation that is necessary to understand the karma involved. In other words, a person who commits suicide does so with the intent of ending one’s pain, regardless of the reality that their suicide is bound to cause others emotional pain.

When a person commits suicide, their karma from this act will force the individual into a life in which the temptation to commit suicide is slightly stronger than the previous. Note this will occur in the next lifetime. In other words, if a person commits suicide, their next lifetime will include circumstances that are slightly harder (i.e. more painful) then the previous.

However, the individual will also be given more support to help overcome the temptation to kill oneself. This amount of increase in support will directly correspond to the amount of increase in the difficulty of the next lifetime. The support given could come in many forms, such as support from family and friends, spiritual guidance, and/or an increase in emotional maturity or spiritual wisdom.

The Transition Period

Normally during the between-life state, a soul has the opportunity to choose the circumstances and lessons to be encountered during the next life. However, there is an exception for the soul who has committed suicide. This soul cannot opt out of a life that will once again include the temptation to kill oneself. As a result, other choices (such as parents and life lessons, for example) will be limited as well.

Additionally, a soul who has committed suicide could potentially – at least temporarily – end up in some sort of limbo state. Suiciders in the between-life state are sometimes described as being in some sort of state fog, where the surroundings are not clear.

This is a result of suiciders who genuinely believe that there is no afterlife, and that committing suicide will end their existence. Note that in the afterlife, a soul will return to the astral plane (at least until the cycle of reincarnation is broken). An interesting feature of the astral plane is a person’s experience matches their belief that they bring with them. Therefore, if a person believes that there is no afterlife, that individual will experience an afterlife that matches this perception. In this case, the afterlife experience will be one in which the individual feels that they no longer exist.

However, the soul does in fact still have an astral body. Therefore, the soul will be able to feel that they do in fact exist. If or once the soul is willing to challenge their belief of not existing based on their perceptions, the experience of the between-life state will also change.

Overcoming Suicidal Tendencies

It should be clear by now that the act of committing suicide is counter-productive. However, just having this knowledge is not enough to overcome the desire to kill oneself. I.e., the threat of pain in the next life does not reduce the pain in the present life. I therefore want to talk a little bit about what can be done to overcome the temptation of committing suicide.

Before I do, I want to mention that I have personally dealt with suicidal tendencies and episodes, especially in the last couple of years. This period has been extremely challenging and often highly frustrating. I don’t want to suggest that I have all the answers, but I do consider it part of my life’s purpose to explore how to overcome suicidal desires, and then help others to do the same.

The Self-Centered Perspective

I’ve spent considerable time analyzing the comments of people who are struggling with suicide. Some of the most typical comments include:

  • “Life never gets better.”
  • “Nobody really cares about you unless you’re dead.”
  • “I can’t do anything right.”
  • “I am a burden on others. It would be better off for everyone if I was dead.”
  • “I don’t want to die: I just want to end the pain.”

From a spiritual perspective, the way to get anything in life is to give it. And for the record, this concept is not new: the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is based on this premise. In other words, if you want people to care about you, then start caring about others. If you want your life to get better, then do things that make other people’s lives better. If you want happiness in your life, then do things that will genuinely bring happiness into other people’s lives.

Unfortunately, taking the focus off of yourself is extremely difficult for people in pain. After all, why should someone who is in extreme emotional pain help people who are not in pain? This seems very counter-intuitive.

So at first it may not even be possible to make a transition. But it is at least important to realize that one of the keys to overcoming suicidal tendencies is to take the focus off of yourself. Suicidal episodes are actually a habitual, vicious circle. The more you think about suicide, the more pain you incur on yourself, and the harder it is for you to stop.

Judging Life

This next idea is possibly the most important thing for a person to understand who is suicidal. In order for life to get better, a person must stop wanting life to get better. Let’s use an analogy to help explain why this is.

Think for a moment of a person that you can’t stand. It could be somebody in your personal life, but to make things simple, let’s focus on a politician that – when hearing their name – makes your blood boil.

When you hate a person, you assume in advance that whatever this person does next is going to be wrong. If the politician does one thing, you’ll think: “Oh I can’t believe they did that! What a scandal!” And then when they do something else, you think: “How could anyone possibly vote for this guy! They are so horrible!”

With this in mind, think about the fact that there are two sides to everything. Yes, your politician may have done this and this and that. HOWEVER, every action or choice has both positives and negatives. There is no such thing as a choice that is completely positive or completely negative. So when we hate someone, we are only seeing the negative in that person, and we fail to recognize anything positive about them.

Relationship to Life

Our relationship to life works in a very similar manner. In other words, when we want nothing more than for life to get better, what we are really saying is that life is horrible. We hate life as it is and want it to change. We demand that life get better, or we simply can’t go on. In other words, we are unable to recognize the good of life.

To demand for life to change is a trap. As soon as we have decided that life is horrible, we have blinded ourselves to what our lives truly are. We have given life a label that we can no longer see beyond. No matter what happens from now on, we will only view life as horrible.

Life is constantly changing. You could say that it changes “for the better”, but if you are always looking for the negative in life, you won’t even notice when it does. Therefore, the way for life to become better is to stop wanting it to become better. Instead, we must focus on all the good things that are already in life.

The more that we appreciate what is in life, the more good things will appear in life for us to appreciate. Again, spirituality always works the opposite of what most people believe. If we are grateful to life, it will give us reasons to be grateful. If we love life, then our lives will be filled with love.

One of my favorite quotes, by Sri Chinmoy, is the following:

Try not to change the world. You will fail. Try to love the world. Lo, the world is changed. Changed forever.

For this particular topic, I would change this quote to the following:

Don’t wait for life to get better. It won’t. Instead, love your life now as if it was the life you always dreamed of. Lo, your life is changed. Changed forever.

Photo by Nathan Cowley