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What does the Bible say about suicide?

September 12, 2023 -

A man sits with his back and head against a wall, arms crossed, suggestive of dealing with anxiety, stress, or depression. ©Photographee.eu/stock.adobe.com. Unfortunately, many people in a similar position may be asking themselves, "What does the Bible say about suicide?"

A man sits with his back and head against a wall, arms crossed, suggestive of dealing with anxiety, stress, or depression. ©Photographee.eu/stock.adobe.com. Unfortunately, many people in a similar position may be asking themselves, "What does the Bible say about suicide?"

A man sits with his back and head against a wall, arms crossed, suggestive of dealing with anxiety, stress, or depression. ©Photographee.eu/stock.adobe.com. Unfortunately, many people in a similar position may be asking themselves, "What does the Bible say about suicide?"

Wrestling with depression or anxiety? Know that God has a plan for your life. Discover more below in “What does the Bible say about suicide?”

NOTE: If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please get help immediately. Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.

According to the World Health Organization as of 2023, over 700,000 people take their own life every year. Stay Here, a “mental health organization and movement dedicated to ending suicide and healing the broken hearted,” says a suicide occurs every forty seconds. 

In February 2022, former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst died by suicide. She was by all standards successful. She was a Division-I athlete, won the Miss USA pageant, placed in the top ten Miss Universe competition, and became the host of an entertainment news program Extra. She even helped others with her law degree by doing pro bono cases. Tragically, Kryst nonetheless lost herself to suicide, writing that she “only found emptiness” even in her successes. Depression and suicidality can affect even the most successful by the world’s standards. 

But suicidal thoughts can affect all kinds of people, even pastors. Darrin Patrick, a megachurch pastor, speaker, and author, died by suicide in 2020. According to Seacoast Church, a multi-site megachurch in South Carolina where he was teaching pastor, he died of what appeared to be a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.” A longtime friend of Patrick noted that pastors often don’t know what to do when they struggle. They attempt to keep up appearances and handle their struggles on their own. “We don’t feel like we can ask for help,” he said. (Dr. Mark Turman and John Mark Caton discuss pastoring through suicides in The Denison Forum Podcast episode “How to help prevent suicide and aiding survivors“.)

As a pastor and a theologian, I am not qualified to offer medical advice or professional counseling to those suffering from anxiety and depression. But I can offer biblical insights on the painful issue of suicide. 

And let’s offer others the hope and help that we find in Christ.

I encourage you to read the rest of this article, or you may click directly to a relevant topic through the contents guide below. You may also find the following suicide prevention resources helpful:

Suicide prevention podcasts

Suicide prevention articles

Click here for all content tagged suicide.

A guide to “What does the Bible say about suicide?”

The scope of the issue of suicide in America

More people die from suicide than from homicide in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates rose until 2018, increasing 36 percent between 2000 and 2018. It declined a bit until 2020, but it’s estimated that since then, they have risen due to the pandemic.  

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Americans ages ten to thirty-four. Suicide rates have grown exponentially for women since 1999. 

The CDC reports that more than half of the people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

Factors contributing to suicide include:

  • relationship problems
  • a crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks
  • problematic substance abuse
  • physical health problems
  • job or financial problems
  • criminal or legal problems
  • and loss of housing.

There is a direct link between anxiety and opioid use. Those suffering from anxiety are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol or other substance abuse disorder. Anxiety is linked to heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders.

And numerous studies have related anxiety directly to suicide. Compared to those without anxiety, patients with anxiety disorder were more likely to have suicidal ideations, attempted suicides, completed suicides, or suicidal activities.

Anxiety is escalating in our culture. Since the pandemic, over a third of Americans “show symptoms of anxiety, depression, or both.” Teens are showing alarming propensities toward suicide. Twenty percent of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide, and nearly ten percent report having attempted suicide, as of 2022.

A recent mental distress survey found that participants were eight times as likely to screen positive for serious mental illness as participants in a similar survey two years ago. The vast majority of the 2020 participants, 70 percent, met the criteria for moderate to serious mental illness, showing the detrimental effects of the pandemic isolation.

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that during public health emergencies, “emotional distress is ubiquitous in affected populations.” And counselors warn that the isolation created by stay-at-home restrictions can especially contribute to psychological harm.

These are some of the facts regarding the tragedy of suicide. However, if you are reading this paper because this subject is more personal than objective for you, I hope the following discussion is helpful.

As I noted, I am writing as a theologian and a minister, not a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. I will offer a brief overview of our subject from a biblical and theological perspective, with some practical suggestions at the conclusion of our conversation.

But if suicide is a real issue for you, I urge you to seek professional help immediately. See the section “Help for those considering suicide” toward the end of this essay.

The history of suicide

The term suicide is traced in the Oxford English Dictionary to 1651; its first occurrence is apparently in Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici, written in 1635 and published in 1642. Before it became a common term, expressions such as “self-murder” and “self-killing” were used to describe the act of taking one’s own life.

In Greek and Roman antiquity, suicide was accepted and even seen by some as an honorable means of death and the attainment of immediate salvation. Stoics and others influenced by them saw suicide as the triumph of an individual over fate. Socrates’ decision to take his own life rather than violate the state’s sentence of execution influenced many to see the act as noble. However, he also made clear that we belong to the gods and cannot end our lives unless they wish it so (Plato, Phaedo 62bc).

Many of the early Christians knew they would likely die for their faith but chose to follow Christ at any cost. These deaths are not typically considered “suicide” since they were not initiated by the person but accepted as a consequence of his or her commitment to Jesus.

Augustine (AD 354–430) was a strong opponent of any form of self-murder (cf. City of God 1:4–26). He appealed to the sixth commandment and its prohibition against murder. And he agreed with Socrates that our lives belong to God so that we have no right to end them ourselves. Over time, many in the church came to see self-murder as an unpardonable sin (see the discussion of the Catholic Church’s position below).

In the nineteenth century, social scientists began to view suicide as a social issue and a symptom of a larger dysfunction in the community and/or home. Medical doctors began to identify depression and other disorders behind the act. Suicide became decriminalized so that the individual could be buried, his family not disinherited, and a survivor not prosecuted.

Many are confused about this difficult subject, as our society and its churches have adopted such a wide variety of positions on it. So, let’s discuss biblical teachings on the issue, the Catholic position, a Protestant response, and practical help for those dealing with this tragic issue.

What does the Bible say about suicide?

God’s word does not use the word suicide, but it has much to say on our subject.

Biblical occurrences

The Old Testament records five clear suicides:

  1. When Abimelech was mortally wounded by a woman who dropped a millstone on his head, he cried to his armor-bearer to kill him so his death would not be credited to the woman (Judges 9:54).
  2. The mortally wounded King Saul fell upon his own sword lest the Philistines abuse him further (1 Samuel 31:4).
  3. Saul’s armor-bearer then took his own life as well (1 Samuel 31:5).
  4. Ahithophel hanged himself after his advice was no longer followed by King David’s son Absalom (2 Samuel 17:23).
  5. Zimri set himself afire after his rebellion failed (1 Kings 16:18).

Additionally, some consider Jonah to have attempted suicide (Jonah 1:11–15). And Samson destroyed the Philistine temple, killing himself and all those with him (Judges 16:29–30). But many do not see this as a suicide as much as an act of military bravery.

The death of Judas is the only clear example of suicide in the New Testament (Matthew 27:3–10). Paul later prevented the suicide of the Philippian jailer and won him to Christ (Acts 16:27–28).

Some consider Jesus’ death to have been a kind of suicide since he made clear: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). However, as the divine Son of God, he could only have been killed, by any means, with his permission.

Biblical principles

God’s word makes clear the sanctity of life:

  • “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).
  • “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
  • “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).
  • “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
  • “No one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:29).

There are times when believers may have to give their lives in the service of Christ and his kingdom (cf. Mark 8:34–36; John 13:37; Philippians 1:21–22). But voluntary martyrdom is not usually considered suicide.

As we have seen, our postmodern culture claims that absolute truth does not exist (note that this is an absolute truth claim). In a nontheistic or relativistic society, it is difficult to argue for life and against suicide. If we are our own “higher power,” we can do with our lives what we want, or so we’re told.

But if God is the Lord of all that is, he retains ownership over our lives and their days. He is the only one who can determine when our service is done, our intended purpose fulfilled. It is the clear and consistent teaching of Scripture that our lives belong to their Maker and that we are not to end them for our own purposes.

Suicide and the Catholic Church 1

Does this fact mean that suicide costs Christians their salvation?

Many of the theological questions people ask in this regard relate in some way to the Catholic Church’s teachings on the subject. The Catholic Catechism contains several statements regarding suicide and mortal sin (all italics are in the original).


On suicide, the Church does not maintain that taking one’s own life always leads to eternity in hell, as this statement makes clear:

#2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of (see #2281–2283).

Mortal sin

The Catholic Church maintains a distinction between “mortal” and “venial” sins. Mortal sins separate us from God’s grace; venial sins, while serious, do not (see #1037, #1470, #1859–1861, and #2268).

Theological principles

The following principles of Catholic theology seem clear:

  • We cannot be sure of the spiritual state of the person who commits suicide. This person may be suffering from “grave psychological disturbances” which “can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide” (#2282). Mortal sin requires “full knowledge and complete consent” (#1859) and can be diminished by unintentional ignorance (#1860).
  • Thus, the Church “should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives” (#2283).
  • However, if the person was fully aware of his or her actions, without suffering “grave psychological disturbances,” this person committed murder, an act that is “gravely sinful” (#2268).
  • A person who commits a mortal sin and demonstrates “persistence in it until the end” goes to hell (#1037).

Since a person who commits self-murder (suicide) cannot then repent of this sin, it is logical to conclude that this person cannot be saved from hell.

However, the Catechism nowhere makes this conclusion explicit.

Is suicide the unpardonable sin?

Most Protestants do not believe that it is possible for a Christian to lose his or her salvation, even if that person commits suicide.

In this section, we’ll summarize biblical principles on the subject of “eternal security.” Then we’ll apply them to the issue of suicide.

Know what you can know

The Bible assures us, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). A literal translation would be, “We can actually and with full assurance know intellectually and personally that we have eternal life.” This phrase does not mean that we gradually grow into assurance, but that we can possess here and now a present certainty of the life we have already received in Jesus.

But first we must “believe in the name of the Son of God.” “Believe” means more than intellectual assent—it is the biblical word for personal trust and commitment. We can assent to the fact that an airplane will fly me from Dallas to Atlanta, but I must get on board before it can. No surgeon can operate on the basis of intellectual assent—we must submit to the procedure.

If you have made Christ your Savior, you can claim the biblical fact that you “have eternal life,” present tense, right now. You are already immortal. Jesus promised that “whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:26). We simply step from time into eternity, from this life to the next.

Nowhere does the Bible say how it feels to become the child of God because our feelings can depend on the pizza we had for supper or the weather outside the window. No circumstances or events can guarantee our salvation.

It takes as much faith to believe we are Christians today as it did to become believers. We still have not seen God or proven our salvation in a test tube. If we had, we could question the reality or veracity of what we saw or thought.

Either the Bible is true, or it is false. Either God keeps his word, or he does not. He promises that if you “believe in the name of the Son of God,” you “have eternal life” this moment. You cannot lose your salvation, for you are already the immortal child of God. This is the fact of God’s word.

What about “falling from grace”?

Those who believe that it is possible to trust in Christ and then lose our salvation are quick to quote Hebrews 6:4–6. These interpreters assume that the text speaks of people who have experienced a genuine conversion, then “fall away” (v. 6). They typically believe that such a person needs another salvation experience.

But others disagree.

Some believe that the writer is stating a hypothetical case: if genuine Christians “have fallen away,” then “it is impossible” for them “to be brought back to repentance” (vv. 4, 6). Not that they can actually fall from salvation, but, if they could, they could not be saved again. Note that if the text deals with a Christian who actually falls from faith, it teaches that the person has no chance to be saved again.

Others believe that the writer is speaking not of a Christian but of someone who considers the faith, perhaps even joins a church, but then rejects Christ. If such a person persists in unbelief, he cannot then be saved. If a person claims that he once trusted Christ but does so no more, we would believe that he was never a genuine Christian.

The Bible seems clearly to teach that a Christian is forever the child of God:

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
  • “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27–29).
  • “Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26 ESV).

What about the “unpardonable sin”?

Jesus has just healed a demon-possessed man. The crowds think he might be the Messiah, but the Pharisees say that he drives out demons by the devil himself. So, Jesus responds, “Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:31). He repeats his warning: “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (v. 32).

Peter could deny Jesus, Thomas could doubt him, and Paul could persecute his followers, yet they could be forgiven. But “blasphemy against the Spirit” cannot be forgiven, now or at any point in the future. This is the “unpardonable sin.”

So, what is this sin? Let’s set out what we know.

We know that Christians cannot commit this sin. The Bible is clear in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” “All” means all. No sin is unpardonable for a Christian.

We know that this sin relates to the work of the Holy Spirit in regard to unbelievers. Jesus is warning the Pharisees, those who rejected him, that they are in danger of this sin. So, what does the Spirit do with non-Christians?

  • He convicts them of their sin and need for salvation: “When [the Spirit] comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
  • He tells them about Christ their Savior: “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me” (John 15:26).
  • He explains salvation: “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
  • When they confess their sins and turn to Christ, the Spirit makes them God’s children: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. . . . And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:9, 11).

In short, the Holy Spirit leads lost people to salvation.

So, we know that it is the “unpardonable sin” to refuse the Spirit’s work in leading you to salvation. To be convicted of your sin and need for a savior but refuse to admit it. To be presented the gospel but reject it.

Why is this sin unpardonable?

Because accepting salvation through Christ is the only means by which our sins can be pardoned.

It is “unpardonable” to reject the only surgery that can save your life or the only chemotherapy that can cure your cancer. Not because the doctor doesn’t want to heal you, but because he cannot. You won’t let him. You have rejected the only means of health and salvation.

The unpardonable sin is rejecting the Holy Spirit’s offer of salvation and dying in such a state of rejection.

Then you have refused the only pardon God is able to give you.

Don’t do that. Be sure you have made Christ your Lord, today.

To conclude this part of our conversation: no verse of Scripture connects suicide with our eternal destiny.

If this act could cause us to lose our salvation, we believe the Bible would make that fact clear. To the contrary, we can neither earn nor lose our salvation by human actions: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Suicide is a tragedy for all involved, including our Father in heaven. But the Bible nowhere teaches that it costs Christians their salvation.

Suicide and physician-assisted death

Physician-assisted death (PAD) is legal in nine US states and the District of Columbia. Said differently, PAD is available to one in five Americans today.

We can expect the push for PAD to increase in the future. A recent Gallup poll found that nearly seven in ten Americans (72 percent) say “doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life by some painless means if the patient and his or her family request it.”

Many ethicists believe that in cases of total brain death or upper-brain death, “heroic” measures are unnecessary. Many believe that ordinary treatment is not obligatory, and “letting die” is moral.

Some, however, believe that it is wrong to withdraw food and hydration, allowing the body to starve. This approach views the life as “holistic,” meaning that a functioning body is still united to the “soul,” the “image of God.” Such a person is still a member of the human race and deserves at least basic care (food and water), if not ordinary care (routine medical support). For more on this distinction, read Dr. Denison’s “What does the Bible say about euthanasia?”

Here, we’ll briefly cover end-of-life medical care, but we treat the issue of Physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, and the notion of “pulling the plug” on a person’s life support in more depth in Dr. Denisons’ article on euthanasia. 

Medical care and the power of God

In dealing with family members facing end-of-life decisions, here are the questions I think we should ask:

  • Do they intend to hasten or even cause death? I do not believe such a decision is defensible.
  • On the other hand, do they wish simply to allow nature to take over, “letting die” if this is the natural result of the patient’s condition? In this situation, medical support is not prolonging life—it is prolonging death.

Maintaining or ending medical care does not necessarily affect the intervention of God. The Lord Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave after he had been dead four days (John 11:38–44). God does not require medical life support to heal. And if it is his will that the patient not survive physically, no medical means can defeat his purpose.

If all medical options have been exhausted, and there is no plausible reason to believe the patient will ever improve, a family who ends heroic or ordinary life support is not removing the possibility of divine intervention. Rather, they are placing their loved one in God’s hands, allowing him to heal physically or eternally.

Help for those considering suicide

People consider suicide when the pain they feel exceeds their ability to cope with it. They want to end their suffering and think that ending their lives will bring relief.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please get help immediately.

Ask your pastor to recommend a Christian counselor in your area.

You can call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.

Take every threat of suicide seriously.

In the meanwhile, it is important to know that it is possible to get through this.

Feeling suicidal does not require that we act on our feeling. The best thing to do immediately is to create some space. If we decide not to act on our feelings for even a few minutes or a day, we can find the strength to seek help. By seeking help, we can deal with the pain and find the hope we need.

Warning signs

The Centers for Disease Control lists these twelve “suicide warning signs”:

  • Feeling like a burden
  • Being isolated
  • Increased anxiety
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Increased substance use
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Increased anger or rage
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking or posting about wanting to die
  • Making plans for suicide

This is an issue parents need to discuss with their children. I urge you to read Janet Denison’s article, “The Kate Spade Conversation.” She discusses the major rise in depression among teenagers and links to an important article by the Society to Prevent Teenage Suicide.

And she notes that “too often, Christians feel that depression should simply be handled ‘spiritually’ instead of ‘medically.’ Depression is an illness, and an illness needs both types of help. If you have reason to believe your child is clinically depressed, you and your child need the help of a physician, as well as the Great Physician.”

Protective factors

The following indicators help buffer people from the risks associated with suicide:

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
  • Easy access to clinical interventions and support for those seeking help
  • Family and community support
  • Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
  • Skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and encourage self-preservation instincts

Help those you care about to experience these positive influences and you’ll do much to prevent the tragedy of suicide.

Three biblical promises

In the appendix of his classic book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis includes this note from physician R. Havard: “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.'”

Let’s close by claiming three promises God makes to every suffering person today.

One: You and every person you know is someone of inestimable worth.

Depression and life crises can cause us to feel that our lives are not worth living. The opposite is true. Every person on earth is someone for whom Jesus died (Romans 5:8).

In 1941, C. S. Lewis preached his famous “Weight of Glory” sermon in St. Mary’s Chapel at Oxford University. In it, he stated, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat” (his emphasis).

Lewis adds: “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” So are you.

Two: God loves you and wants to help.

When Elijah despaired of his life and prayed, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life” (1 Kings 19:4 ESV), God provided the physical, spiritual, and emotional sustenance he needed to go on. When Jeremiah said, “Cursed be the day I was born!” (Jeremiah 20:14), God sustained his prophet.

Scripture promises: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Paul, who faced almost indescribable challenges (2 Corinthians 11:23–28), could proclaim, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Jesus knows your pain. He has faced everything we face (Hebrews 4:15). He cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Now he is ready to help you.

However, let me repeat that one of the most important ways the Great Physician heals is through human physicians. That’s why you need to reach out to professional counselors as soon as possible. God will use them as he ministers his grace to you.

Three: You can “dwell on the heights” with God.

Paul testified that he could “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). He could do this because he lived in the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

God wants to be “the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge” (Isaiah 33:6). The person who walks with him “will dwell on the heights” (v. 16).

You can “dwell on the heights” with your Father. This is the promise, and the invitation, of God.

Will you accept it today?

1. Sources for this study include: Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition English translation; the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (www.ced.gov/ncipc); . T. Clemons, “Suicide,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988) 4:652–3; A. J. Droge, “Suicide,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992) 6:225–31; Milton A. Gonsalves, Fagothey’s Right and Reason: Ethics in Theory and Practice, 9th ed. (Columbus: Merrill Publishing Company, 1989) 246–8; the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (www.save.org); and the American Association of Suicidology (www.suicidology.org).]

2. For further discussion of the terms and issues involved in euthanasia, see David K. Clark and Robert V. Rakestraw, Readings in Christian Ethics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996) 2:95–101. Other sources which have informed my study include David Theo Goldberg, Ethical Theory and Social Issues: Historical Texts and Contemporary Readings (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1988) 388–419; and Robert D. Orr, Dvaid L. Schiedermayer, and David B. Biebel, Life and Death Decisions (Colorado Springs, Colorado: NavPress, 1990) 151–65.

3. A helpful introduction to this complex subject is Robert V. Rakestraw, “The Persistent Vegetative State and the Withdrawal of Nutrition and Hydration,” in Clark and Rakestraw, 2:116–31.


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