If somebody commits suicide do they go to hell?

Since You Asked
Q If somebody commits suicide do they go to hell?
- someone

The reason it is often assumed that a person who commits suicide has purchased a one-way ticket to hell is because there is no possibility of seeking God's forgiveness for the sin.  Our faith teaches us that God will forgive anything - ABSOLUTELY anything - that we do, if only we sincerely ask His forgiveness.  Obviously, though, a person who takes his or her own life is incapable of asking for mercy.  (Once we are dead our opportunity to seek forgiveness has passed.)

There is, however, one major flaw in this reasoning.  To be a mortal sin, one that truly and completely separates us from God, several important conditions MUST be met.  One of them is that we must FREELY choose to commit the sin.  Almost always, the act of taking one's life is a sign of an underlying emotional/psychological problem.  By definition, any mental condition diminishes our freedom.  The very language suicidal persons often use makes this clear.  They often frame it in terms of "having no other choice."  If we feel we have no choice then we are not acting wth complete freedom.  And if we have not chosen that course of action freely, then our sin is NOT such that it COMPLETELY separates us from God.

While it is theoretically possible that a person could take his or her life as a completely free act and thus be separated from God for all eternity, the far more likely situation is that the individual was acting out of some sort of mental illness or emotional duress.  And in those situations the sin will most assuredly be forgiven because it was not a total and complete rejection of God.

- Fr Bob