The purpose of death
The nature of life after death
How we can prepare for death
How we can assist the dying
A man should wait, and not take his own life until God summons him, as he is now summoning me. Socrates, to his disciples in Plato's Phaedo
To get a human body is a rare thing - make full use of it. Every second in human life is very valuable. Brahmananda Saraswathi, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath
When taking a human birth, we enter into a spiritual contract to live on the Earth plane for a certain period of time. This contractual lifespan is not exact to the minute and may even be extended by Divine intervention in some circumstances. But usually, everyone fulfills their spiritual contract, unless they commit suicide.
Not all suicides are a breach of spiritual contract. Sometimes, people sacrifice their lives for selfless reasons, in order to help others. Or, suicide may be the result of long standing physical pain, or a mental illness. But if the primary motivation is to hurt others, or to escape difficult life circumstances, the act may be a breach of spiritual contract. And if this is the case, the spiritual progress of the deceased is usually suspended for the duration of the person's natural lifespan.
There are documented accounts of suicide survivors who recall their experience after death. In most cases, they immediately realized their mistake and wanted to go back and choose again. As further testimony, consider that from the beginning of human history, suicide has been prohibited in every spiritual tradition. It is, after all, the taking of a human life. If we know someone contemplating suicide, we should make every effort to persuade him or her to explore other options and seek professional help.
The purpose of human life is to gather spiritual essence. And we do this through contrasting experience. Not just pleasant experience, but the whole range of human experience. We may think that our lives belong to us, but this is an illusion. Our lives belong to the Divine. From this perspective, it's not about what we may like or dislike. And any attempt to circumvent the challenges of life won't work. In the end, experiences will unfold as dictated by destiny. The more we understand this process and the purpose behind it, the easier it will be to accept what comes and move forward.
Aside from the negative consequences of suicide, it's important to consider the positive value of a human birth. Spiritual development is a continuous process on all the planes of experience. But in general, spiritual growth is much faster on the Earth plane and this is particularly true when we're faced with difficult circumstances. It's during these times that we have an opportunity to generate an extraordinary amount of spiritual essence, which becomes a permanent part of our soul. From this perspective, a single day of Earth life may be worth 100 years on the higher planes. That's not to say that we should seek out difficult or painful experiences. But if they come uninvited, we can be assured that they offer an opportunity for a quantum leap in our spiritual evolution.