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Why is it not permissible to take one’s own life or the lives of others?
God alone is Lord over life and death. Except in the case of legitimate self-defense of oneself or another, no one may kill another human being. An attack on life is a sacrilege committed against God. Human life is sacred; this means that it belongs to God; it is his property. Even our own life is only entrusted to us. God himself has given us the gift of life; only he may take it back from us. The Book of Exodus, translated literally, says “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13).
What sorts of attacks on human life are forbidden by the Fifth Commandment?
Murder and acting as an accomplice to murder are forbidden. Killing unarmed civilians during a war is forbidden. The abortion of a human being, from the moment of conception on, is forbidden. Suicide, self-mutilation, and self-destructive behavior are forbidden. Euthanasiakilling the handicapped, the sick, and the dyingis also forbidden. Today people often try to get around the Fifth Commandment with seemingly humane arguments. But neither euthanasia nor abortion is a humane solution. That is why the Church is perfectly clear on these questions. Whoever participates in an abortion, forces a woman to undergo an abortion, or merely advises her to do so is automatically excommunicatedjust as with other crimes against human life. If a psychologically ill person commits suicide, responsibility for the act of killing is often diminished and in many cases completely annulled.
Dig Deeper: CCC section (2268-2283)