Before That Woman Dies, I’d Like To Tell Her She’s Going to Hell

Susan Griffiths died yesterday. She died by drinking poison that knocked her out, put her in a coma, and slowly killed her… all without pain.

It was her choice to drink the mixture. It was either that or eventually succumbing to a painful, debilitating brain disease.

Susan Griffiths (Ruth Bonneville – Winnipeg Free Press)

In her Winnipeg home, they wouldn’t allow her to die on her own terms, so she had to fly to Switzerland to end her life. Lindor Reynolds captured her story beautifully in this article (and accompanying video). Griffiths, an atheist, really was an incredible woman.

There’s a lot of conversation in the local Canadian press about end-of-life care and why Canada should allow people to die with dignity, but the most jaw-dropping response may have come from someone who read Reynolds’ story:

The day after my story about Susan ran, I got a phone call from a distressed man. He wanted me to give him Susan’s number. He was a Christian, he said, and he needed to tell her she’d go to hell if she went ahead with her plans. She was in Europe, I said, and an atheist with no belief in an afterlife. He insisted she was a sinner. I suggested, as gently as possible, that he add Susan to his prayer list. She was already on mine, I said. He said he’d pray she changed her mind. That was his right, I said.

I can’t tell if that gesture is loving or dickish. Maybe it’s both. Either way, I’m grateful to the religious reporter for politely declining his request.

It would be great if Griffiths’ decision could inspire lawmakers in Canada to change their laws. There’s no reason to deny people the opportunity to end their lives as they see fit. Want to require some counseling first? Fine. A few restrictions? Okay. But to deny it completely, especially after seeing what Tony Nicklinson had to go through, is simply barbaric.

(Thanks to Jackie for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • DeathIsaRight

    Watch Terry Pratchetts “Chosing to Die” commentary if you are interested in this. It is an incredibly moving film with astonishing people and lives.

  • DeathIsaRight

    Watch Terry Pratchetts “Chosing to Die” commentary if you are interested in this. It is an incredibly moving film with astonishing people and lives.

  • The Good Atheist

    It really was a beautiful way to go, and the responses from other Canadians shows that this country is ready to make some changes to our stupid laws.

    • Ibis3

      The country is, but sadly MPs aren’t.

    • AxeGrrl

      Well, given the last couple of weeks, it seems that the country might be ready to make some even bigger changes (like giving Steve the Heave:) as well……so, i’m seeing a glimmer of light at the end of this seemingly endless dark tunnel we’ve been in for the last few years.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    it’s dickish. it’s absurd to think you know the will of an all powerful being and its desire to do something with an atheist who doesn’t even recognize it. it’s selfish to think as a perfect stranger, she wants to hear what you have to say. it’s childish and stupid to believe that she hasn’t already heard this line of religious bs before.

    • http://www.facebook.com/silvia.ribeiro.754918 Silvia Ribeiro

      The problem is religious people of this bloke’s ilk are childish and absurd, which is why they believe the crazy stuff they do :(

  • shockwaver

    The debate is re-opened amongst us commoners, and anyone I talk to that I know fully supports the decision that it should be legalized. However our Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has decided to not actually re-open the debate as our government wasn’t actually elected by a majority of the population and doesn’t have to do anything. – He said: “The laws surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, including those who are most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly or people with disabilities.”

    The conservatives that voted against it in 2010 believed “they were doing the right thing”: “I’m deeply affected by this situation, which is why I voted against it in 2010,” said Conservative MP Glover.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2013/04/25/mb-assisted-suicide-debate-reopened-winnipeg.html?cmp=rss

    I think it’s shameful that we give our pets who are in pain more dignity and less suffering then we are willing to give to our own people.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Because the sick, elderly, and/or disabled shouldn’t have the right to choose to end it all…

      • Pseudonym

        What every politician knows, but won’t admit, is that most cases of voluntary euthanasia are easy, uncontroversial cases and are the right thing to do, but that precisely where to draw the line is hard.

        As soon as you draw a line, one of two things (or possibly both) will happen. Either someone who is a clear candidate for medically-assisted suicide won’t be able to because of a legal technicality, or someone who is not a clear candidate will legally do it. Either way, there will be a public backlash and PR shitstorm, and no politician wants to be held responsible for that.

        It’s gutless, but unsurprising.

        Oh, some politicians also don’t want to open up a euthanasia debate until there are good reasons to do it, like they command a majority in the legislature and there’s some other scandal or issue they want to bury.

  • http://twitter.com/eeeegads The Fluffy Damsel

    Something I have never understood is anyone’s need to inform another that their actions will land them in hell, on their DEATHBED, no less. What makes them so self important that their “sharing” this information takes priority over another person’s peace. They aren’t sharing the information as some benevolent act; they are sharing it because part of THEIR belief system is that they must proselytize to get THEMSELVES into heaven! It is vile, and I find it laughable that anyone would think you would give out this person’s contact information.

    • beatonfam

      Your response made me think of a recent exchange between friends of mine regarding proper illness etiquette. Someone shared a great graphic about dumping in and dumping out. At the center of concentric circles is the patient, followed by immediate family, other family, closest friends etc… You must find your circle. In dealing with the illness you may only vent your frustration and grief to an outer level; never inward. That guy is dumping way inward. As he is a total stranger he doesn’t even rate a circle. Your belief system says you must proselytize to get into heaven? Good for you! Take a dump somewhere else.

    • http://www.facebook.com/travis.myers.102977 Travis Myers

      I don’t think everyone who feels the need to tell people about hell on their deathbeds are doing it just to get into heaven. I think many of them genuinely don’t want the person to go to hell and are trying to help them. If you honestly believe that someone is going to hell, then you would be the most uncaring person in the world if you didn’t tell them so.

      • Artor

        You are probably right, but it’s still dickish that they never bother to reason out that their beliefs are ridiculous before they foist them off on others.

      • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

        It’s presumptuous to think that people living in a western nations are ignorant of basic Christianity and that they (the super duper variety of Christians, not those other) have THE TRUTH.

        And it is odious that religions create this unnecessary terror in people.

      • Randomfactor

        If you were the sort of person who believed such things, it would be the kindest thing anyone else could do to prevent you from acting on those beliefs. With physical restraints if necessary.

      • Wild Rumpus

        Straight up, it’s always dickish to tell someone else they are going to hell for not believing in the same supernatural/occult deity that you do.

        It’s double dick douchbag to do it on someone’s deathbed.

        I don’t care how much you believe… It’s not your moment

  • http://twitter.com/dougphilips Doug Philips

    It’s dickish and immensely childish. I lost the belief in hell long before I lost the belief in gods. There is so much of religion that is obviously invented by humans, but hell doctrines are by far the most glaring!

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      Same here, except hell was probably the last doctrine I discarded before I just said to hell with the whole lot (pun intended).

    • Randomfactor

      There are generally two kinds of Christians: those who believe in a literal Hell, and the good ones.

      • http://www.facebook.com/TheUniversalOverlord Patrick James Bayham

        thats pretty delusional..all xtians need to believe in hell, or there is no heaven..gotta have carrot and stick!

        • Randomfactor

          Actually, there are lots of Christians who don’t buy into the whole hellfire myth. They tend to be the less dangerous ones.

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

            Yes, even many Christians who know full well they’re supposed to believe in it don’t actually believe in it. Or, if they do believe in hell, they reserve it for people like murderers.

            The “eternal punishment for nonbelievers” crowd is just completely sick and depraved. I can’t fathom the mindset required to live in a world where you “know” that most of the people you meet are going to be tortured for eternity. How does one go about daily life? I know these people are indoctrinated, but I just don’t understand how a normal person with normal human emotions could not only believe that, but defend it as good.

            • Spuddie

              “I can’t fathom the mindset required to live in a world where you “know”
              that most of the people you meet are going to be tortured for eternity.
              How does one go about daily life?”

              Easy, you delight that you are a special one and they are not. Its a petty hateful and petty type of idea. One that works well for petty and hateful people.

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

                Are they all petty and hateful, though? At one point, they were innocent children being fed horrible lies. I guess most of the decent ones leave when they grow up, but others might be trapped there by their own indoctrination. I think there are probably good people stuck in evangelical Christianity, people who don’t want to see other people hurt and suffer. I don’t understand how they reconcile their beliefs with interacting with nonbelievers destined for torture.

                Maybe it requires a lot of compartmentalization. I think this is why evangelicals put such a huge emphasis on avoiding being “unequally yoked.” They’re not encouraged to form relationships with nonbelievers, perhaps because it’s harder to justify torture when you have an actual relationship with the person being tortured. They’re only supposed to interact with us to save us, not to form deep friendships or romantic relationships.

                • Spuddie

                  I think you hit upon it. They limit their interactions to those outside the group to those which are necessary and prosletyzing. It always seems to be about isolation. Setting one’s self apart out of some feeling of spiritual superiority.

                • Andrew Patton

                  Well holy does mean, “set apart for righteousness.” But really, how harmonious could a house be when husband and wife can’t agree on something so fundamental as religion? Avoiding unequal yoking is for the best, because mixed marriage usually leads to chaos in the home.

                • Spuddie

                  All you are doing is illustrating the mindset I am talking about. Encouraging people to isolate themselves to only those of the same faith in important human relationships. All in the repugnant smug-self serving manner which is being criticized.

                  Why should one spouse give up their faith and beliefs just to be in “harmony” with the other? How about showing some level of respect for the other’s belief? Is that too hard for you. Evidently so.

                  When you worship a god which demands conformity to the same sectarian belief of all you interact with, it makes it easy to treat others with less respect. For evangelicals that means if you are not one of them or have zero desire to be one, it is OK to treat them like crap.

                • Andrew Patton

                  How could I raise my children in my faith if my wife is undermining me? You have to understand the gravity of this matter for us Christians: our faith is more important than our very lives, and to neglect to raise our children in the faith is worse than murdering them. Thus, there can be no compromise. We strongly warn against the dangers of mixed marriage, and if anyone proceeds with a mixed marriage anyway, the unbeliever must completely yield to the Christian in matters of faith and morals.

                • Spuddie

                  Why should you automatically assume to raise the children in YOUR faith? Why raise them in any faith so exclusively given the circumstances? Why should you show such little respect for a belief other than your own?

                  All you gain from such a perspective beyond smug self-satisfaction that you may enter the afterlife of choice. Ego massage and a chance to impose on others.

                  What you are trying to say is you value your insularity to the point of being willing to attack others for not doing so. Fundamentalists always do. Having open and expansive views of the world doesn’t jive well with respect for others. As I said they use their faith as a license to act badly to those outside it. You have essentially told me you have no trouble doing so.

                  Marriage is meant to be the joining of people with mutual respect. A mixed marriage entails respect for the religious beliefs of the other as part of the mix too. What you are saying is your spouse would have to submit to your views regardless of belief just to satisfy your faith. It tells me about your personality and the type of thinking cultivated by fundamentalism.

            • Thackerie

              By the time I was just about ready to end my half-hearted attempt to be a christian, I had come to believe that exceedingly few people would be in hell — just the worst of the worse, maybe Hitler for example. By the time I was ready to acknowledge my atheism, I no longer believed that eternal torture would be appropriate for anyone, not even Hitler.

            • cipher

              I can’t fathom the mindset required to live in a world where you “know”
              that most of the people you meet are going to be tortured for eternity.

              Congenital psychopaths.

              • Andrew Patton

                It’s actually scary, because you realize how precarious your own situation is. It’s scary to know that you could live your life faithfully for a hundred years only to throw it all away in the hour of death. It’s scary to know that there are demons and evil men all around trying to trick us into committing mortal sins.

                • cipher

                  Oh, you “know” that, do you?

                  You’re very sadly deluded.

        • dita

          Actually, most decent religious folks seem amazingly relaxed about the hell story. My husband is muslim. He insists his god is real and that Mo was his press secretary. He’s equally convinced that his god would not let anybody actually go to hell and is in fact a radical feminist. Makes zero sense but does make him a lovely person.

          • Spuddie

            We found a new Caliph!!!!

            How is he about public speaking?

        • http://twitter.com/aljones909 allan jones

          I think hell has made a comeback in recent years. The nutty american evangelicals have been very successful at pushing their fundamentalist views. They see no inconsistency in people having the eternal pleasures of heaven while their father or mother or grandfather or son or husband or wife are suffering eternal torture.

          • Pseudonym

            Hell has certainly come and gone in popularity over the years, since it first became a mainstream belief around 250 years after Jesus lived.

            • Andrew Patton

              The Book of Revelation testifies in graphic detail the reality of Hell and warns readers not to deny anything contained in the book.

  • mysynergy

    Dogs are allowed a more humane death than humans. That’s ridiculous.

  • JKPS

    It’s dickish with the possible intention of loving. The great thing with using a word like “distressed” is that we have no idea what that really means. Was he angry? Tearful? Worried? No idea, no idea, no idea. It’s hard to pinpoint what his exact intentions were.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078695333 David Kopp

      “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” – Steven Weinberg

      I think that pretty much sums it up. I’m sure he thinks he’s doing a good thing, but it’s due to religious brainwashing that it’s so. No truly empathetic person would do something like that.

      • JKPS

        Excellent quote and I quite agree!

  • hermann

    Well, she was an atheist, so it wouldn´t make a difference

    • blasphemous_kansan

      If the “difference” you’re talking about is a difference on the quality of her afterlife, then I agree and I don’t think any difference would have been made even if she was not an atheist. You know, since hell doesn’t exist and all.

      If you’re talking about a verbal assault like this making a difference in her quality of life, though, then I disagree. Her subjecting herself to this man’s judgmental (and possibly well-intended) rant would mean setting aside a few fleeting minutes of her existence on this planet to indulge one person’s hate-fantasy involving their superstition of choice. If I knew the exact moment when my time on this Earth would expire, I would want to spend exactly %0 of it listening to fantasy-laden morality screeds such as the one possessed by this person.

      • Nilanka15

        I think the “difference” implied was that in this crazy man’s eyes, she was going to hell anyway for not believing in god.

        • blasphemous_kansan

          Agreed. Just wanted to make the point that just because one is an atheist doesn’t mean that they are vaccinated against the effects that a believer (whether in good faith or bad) could have on them by choosing an improper time to proselytize. Even if that effect is as small as a few less seconds on Earth doing something that we love.

  • Matto the Hun

    This is what Christianity and the Bible does (religion on the whole really). It takes a person’s normal inclination for caring, empathy, and love and twists it into something vile (dickish)

  • Brenda Kitterman

    I am always offended when someone says they will pray for me. This is nothing more than their way of passing judgement against me. They may as well just say outright they disapprove of me and believe their imaginary friend is more qualified than I to know what’s best for me and my body. Needless to say, I find both the caller and the response to this caller offensive.

    • 7Footpiper

      To me it’s like saying I’ll do absolutely nothing for you but I’ll make myself feel better in the process.

      • Agrajag

        Indeed. If you ask people who claim they’ll “pray for you” to do something that’d -actually- help you out, they frequently refuse.

    • Mario Strada

      Normally, when people tell me they’ll “pray for me” my reaction is less than positive.
      However, a few years ago I faced my own demise because of a grave illness. At some point I had no more than a few weeks to go. Of course, I got a lot of this “IO’ll pry for you” shit, but there was one case that did not bother me.
      When I became ill, the parents of a very good friend of mine and one time co-worker apparently took to praying for me with their congregation. They did that for over two years.

      I met them only once at the Christmas Company party and we ended up singing (secular) songs together off the karaoke machine. We had a great time and I thought they were fine people. Kind, generous and gregarious.

      I never told them I was an atheist and they never told me they were religious. It simply did not come up and that’s actually the way I like it.

      When I got ill they did what they felt they could do from 3000 miles away. They had their entire congregation pray for me every Sunday.

      Of course, that had nothing to do with my eventual recovery, else I would have to assume that my hospital roommate, whom died of the same illness I had, was less important in the eyes of his god.

      But the way these sweet people did it, did not bother me at all. They really believe this stuff and feeling powerless that their son’s friend was dying, they prayed. They never told me and I eventually learned of it when one of the passed away. My friend’s wife told me about it as one of the anecdotes she recounted while we talked about the sad news.

      So, that time I had to admit that there are ways the religious can pray for an atheist. On their own, without making a production or trying to claim the glory.

      For me, it was a sweet gesture and I don’t regret they did it, because it tells me they truly cared about me, as their son’t friend and probably as the guy with the guitar that knew a lot of the songs of their youth.

      • SeekerLancer

        Yes, in the context of being sick or injured it never really bothered me. They’re trying to make a nice gesture and help comfort you. Getting offended by it when used in that context is being over-sensitive. They’re only trying to help.

        It only becomes a pejorative in the case of when they’re saying “I’ll pray for you” in reference to you disagreeing with their beliefs, i.e. being an atheist or gay or something like that.

  • XtraNombre

    He probably believes he’s trying to save her, so from his perspective, it’s loving. From any rational person’s perspective, it’s dickish.

  • Matto the Hun

    Also, before I forget, this makes Christianity (and religions with similar punitive after life beliefs) doubly evil.

    Not only was this man’s capacity for love and empathy corrupted but now he feels anguish over what he’s been convinced will happen to people who aren’t in and don’t obey the rules of Club Jesus. What a sick belief.

  • SeekerLancer

    Her choice was to live in a real life hell or possibly go to a mythological one. She made her choice.

  • rhodent

    In his mind, I’m sure he thought that she would indisputably go to hell if she committed suicide. But wait, any of us might say: she was an atheist, so according to his beliefs she’d be going to hell anyway. To that his response would likely be that if he could at least get her to live a little longer, maybe she would see the light and accept Christ and thus enter into heaven. But wait, any of us might say: Sure, it’s possible, but is there any reason to believe that she’s going to suddenly become religious? And he might respond that it’s possible…she did have a disease that was killing her brain, after all…

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

      Honestly, any possibility is true. But I doubt she would throw away the years of thoughtful consideration, and often disparaging feelings, on a five minute conversion. Atheism is not a choice made lightly, it is pretty callous of xtians to think we will just throw away something we feel like we fought hard for and won despite the many energies of reconversion pent against us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurent.lambert.52 Laurent Lambert

    I’m OK with people dying with dignity, but I betour idiotic Conservative government has other ideas. I can’t wait for them to be booted out of power. As someone posted, “Dogs get better treatment than humans”.

    • AxeGrrl

      I can’t wait for them to be booted out of power.

      Ditto. It’s going to be a very long 2 more years. Worst government in recent history.

  • indorri

    It was neither dickish nor loving.

    It was decrepit and evil. The reporter was too kind. He should have let the caller know in no uncertain terms to fuck off and threaten him with pursuing stalking charges if he continued attempting to gain access to her contact information.

  • http://msmith13.wordpress.com/ Mark

    Yeah, it’s not both. Using your beliefs like a club to beat people with is inexcusable.

    • Nilanka15

      That’s the problem with fanatics. They don’t believe their beliefs are beliefs. They believe their beliefs are universal truths.

  • Martin Wagner

    I have to agree with Condell here. When Christians say they’re praying for you, they’re saying they hope their beliefs take control of your life. They think they’re doing something nice for you. They’re really declaring war on you.

    • randomfactor

      And firing blanks.

  • Bdole

    Recently, two people, one of whom I know and the other I know of, had deathbed conversions due to some heavy last-minute proselytizing. The phrase used by the proselytizers was “we sent her off to Heaven.”

    I have mixed feelings on the issue when the person actually does convert. Beforehand, my feeling was that they should keep their noxious, Hellish dogma to themselves. But, when the person ends up “accepting Jesus” I wonder if that wasn’t of some comfort to them or to their family (assuming a believing family).

    I feel guilty about losing a little respect for the person I knew upon hearing about their deathbed conversion. Not because of my own opinions about religion, but because they lived their whole life not caring one whit about a god but then suddenly decide, when their life is all used up that they’re going to game the system and gain entry. I sound like a religionist, here but it’s cheap grace and appeals to superficial aspirations of morality. On the other hand, how can I judge someone for wanting comfort in the face of death and the throes of a terminal illness?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078695333 David Kopp

      I can’t blame the person dying who found comfort in those thoughts. I CAN blame people doing “heavy last-minute proselytizing”. Seriously… they actually think it’s a GOOD thing to mentally abuse someone who’s dying, to put all that fear into them, and then offer to take it away? How screwed up is that?

    • Andrew Patton

      Or maybe they realize that all the time they spent without God was worthless, and that now, at the end of their lives, their entire lives were meaningless and soon to be forgotten. Everything that is not eternal is eternally worthless. The fact that they want to go to Heaven, means that they want to do something of real value for the first time in their lives.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        What a vile view of other peoples’ lives.

        Eternity is meaningless. Nothing matters if it can’t end, and nothing matters if a great father figure is going to fix it all anyway and we can’t amount to anything more than motes of dust being swept into neat little piles by him. Life is only precious because it is temporary. Struggle only matters because it is always futile; it’s about the fight, not the victory. Those who believe in an afterlife might as well end it now, because everything they have and will do is less than that mote of dust next to some incomparable magic man. Their lives are now and eternally worthless, so they might as well get to the next stage of worthlessness and languish, brainwashed for eternity at best.

        All meaning is subjective, it turns out. The idea of a god and an afterlife only matters if your brain is set up to think it matters.

        • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

          That “neat little piles of dust” image is fantastic, C.L.

          I see eternal life as meaningless by definition precisely because there is no end point and therefore no final “because” to explain it all.

  • JohnL

    This kinda stuff pisses me off. Is he so naïve as to think that this woman hasn’t heard “The Good News”(TM) ? Seriously and christians wonder just why people get pissed off at them. I read an account somewhere from a hospice nurse who said that a co-worker of hers was fired. Why? Because she was going around and begging the non-christian patients to “accept Jesus”. When they told her to bug-off, that only encouraged her to push harder. News flash to christians: If you do this, you’re a dick! If you wouldn’t want me coming to your deathbed w/ the good news of the FSM, then don’t prey upon the dying. Reminds me of the old Johnny Cusack movie “Better Off Dead” when he was being relentlessly chased by the newsboy for $2 dollars!

    • Derrik Pates

      The problem is, they truly believe that “those other religions” are bunk, but theirs is really really true, and thus special, so the rules that apply to “religions” shouldn’t apply to their religion, because it’s really, truly not like that. Except it really, truly is.

  • baal

    I’d call it ‘religion fail’ rather than dickish. I don’t doubt based on the info in the OP that the man was motivated by love or concern. Telling an atheist that they will burn in hell right (ever but especially) right before they die is just shitty. The fact that religious teaching morphs compassion into being rude (at best) shows that the religion’s teachings are deeply flawed.

  • Sue Blue

    The religious just can’t seem to grasp the idea of “autonomy”. This is the ethical principle that each individual has the basic inherent right to determine how to live their lives, what to do with their own body, and when and how to end their life. It’s obvious from the way they try to legislate sex education, birth control, abortion, and end-of-life decisions. I’m a nurse, and as a group, Washington State nurses fought to get our state’s “Death With Dignity” law passed. Our neighbors to the north could take a look at how this has worked out fur us. The sky is not falling, people are not getting murdered by greedy relatives, and no angry deity has smitten us with storms and disasters. All that has happened is that terminally-ill, suffering human beings can choose not to suffer needlessly. That’s really it.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

      I agree with you on every point up to this one “and no angry deity has smitten us with storms and disasters.” 90 days of no rain last summer and no lowland snow this past winter really smacks of some kind of curse. :)

      • Sue Blue

        Well, we must be doing something right where I live because we got all the rain we could ever wish for and more! And a white Christmas, and snow right down to sea level, and nary a tornado or hurricane or even a tiny little earth tremor…

        • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

          Well I live in Tacoma, the Olympic Mountain rain shadow really has kept us dry.

    • Pseudonym

      This isn’t an ethical quandry because of religion. It’s an ethical quandry because this is one of those few genuinely hard cases.

      Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure you know plenty of instances (Susan Griffiths included) where the most compassionate option for someone who is terminally ill, suffering, facing a long-term debilitating decline in quality of life is to let them choose when to die.

      Those are the easy cases.

      Most people who want to take their own life are mentally ill, and hence not competent to make that decision. Exactly where you draw the line is a hard question between “autonomy” and “protecting people who are a danger to themselves” is a very hard problem.

      Many jurisdictions have managed to craft a law which allows the easy cases to happen, but many people are also left out. It’s not “really it”.

      • RowanVT

        So you’d rather wait for those individuals to choose to shoot, poison, or hang themselves instead?

        • Pseudonym

          I don’t understand your question. What I’d “rather” is that we not kid ourselves that it’s an easy issue, particularly in the general case.

          • Derrik Pates

            No one’s saying it’s *easy*, but it’s a discussion that should be had. A big part of why people are so afraid to have it is the stigma attached to it by – wait for it – religion. Is it the only reason? No, definitely not, but to say that it’s not a pretty serious factor is denying reality.

        • Andrew Patton

          No, I’d rather we administer first aid and emergency medical care to everyone who attempts suicide.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Part of the problem is that we define “wanting to take your own life” as inherently mentally ill. I say, if someone wants to end their own life, regardless of their reasoning, let them.

        • Pseudonym

          Please give psychiatrists some credit. They don’t define “wanting to take your own life” as being inherently mentally ill. They observe that it’s often a sign of mental illness.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Yes, but that’s precisely the problem. It is not “often” a sign of mental illness — it is often a rational decision, when one is suffering. If that suffering can be alleviated, great, but we shouldn’t force people into treatment. And often, when someone indicates a desire to commit suicide, the first reaction is to put them on a psych hold.

            Again, I say let them go.

          • cipher

            Pseudonym, I have known more psychiatrists and psychologists than most psychiatrists and psychologists know. I wouldn’t given them a particle of credit. It is a thoroughly parasitic profession. Altruism simply isn’t part of the job description. Moreover, they convince themselves that, by virtue of aptitude and training, they are more insightful than members of the general population.My repeated experience has been that they are, almost without exception, less insightful.

            They are the last people I would consult concerning this matter. I’d ask the local dog officer first.

      • Sue Blue

        Note that I was speaking about autonomy as an ethical principle. Autonomy not only gives you rights over your own body, it also implies that you have the ability to make rational and reasonable decisions. We accord different degrees of autonomy to children as they grow older and more competent. If you are mentally ill, your ability to make autonomous decisions is impaired; it then becomes a question of protecting those who cannot protect themselves. I know all about mental illness and suicide – I have a family member with severe bipolar illness refractory to treatment. I live with the “tough questions” every day.
        In my comment I was specifically addressing the tendency of the religious to deny autonomy to those who are capable of it – women and other mentally competent people.

    • Andrew Patton

      Because we are not fully autonomous. That was what that whole Tree of Knowledge thing was about- human beings foolishly trying to be autonomous from God instead of obedient to Him. He creates life, and life is His alone to take. Now there are some circumstances in which He has given human beings the authority to take life with His approval, but no one has the right to commit suicide.

  • viaten

    In his own mind he may have thought he was being loving and might even understand how “dickish” it looks to others but feels obligated out of “love” or duty to God but doesn’t see how dickish it really is to try to advantage of someone’s closeness to death to convert them at the last moment whether or not they would understand what he is trying to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Valentine/100000243432179 Jason Valentine

    People pray because we feel we need to do something about an impossibly stressful or impossible situation. It’s been recorded that most dying soldiers in battle cry out for god or their mothers. We all want someone to rescue us. It’s in our nature. Even dying animals will give a cry as they did when they were young. I’m agnostic and don’t believe that the universe is going to change things. It doesn’t stop me from breathing a grateful “Thank you” to the stars when things go right. When I express gratitude.I feel I’m propagating a positive outlook. *shrugs* That’s my take on it…every one is entitled.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

      I’m a lifelong atheist, and I’ve never prayed. I think it’s one of those things that absolutely has to be taught at a young age. Sure, people in distress cry out for help, but to call out to some supernatural entity? They have to have been taught that such a thing exists or is likely to exist. Crying out for one’s mother isn’t comparable, IMO, because said mother is real and there would be an actual history of her comforting the suffering person.

  • rgcustomer

    Let’s stop using gendered slurs.

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

    Atheism is not a choice made lightly and it is pretty callous of xtians to
    think we will just throw away something we feel like we fought hard for
    and won despite the many energies of reconversion pent against us.

    • http://twitter.com/aljones909 allan jones

      Bubba, atheism can be a natural and easy choice in a culture where indoctrination is mild or absent. Looking back on my formative years in the sixties we were told the christian stuff but nobody took it seriously. Not even the ones doing the telling. It was just some cultural frippery. Regular church attenders were considered weird. Atheism wasn’t a hard choice. It was pretty much the default. Indoctrination and cultural pressures are the key to maintaining ridculous beliefs.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

        For me it wasn’t even a choice. I just never started believing in gods.

  • Been There

    Lindor Reynolds now believes in God.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

      Now?

  • Jordan Sugarman

    Maybe not dickish, but it’s certainly ignorant and condescending to assume someone who lives in a majority Christian nation doesn’t know what they think about suicide.

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

    Now?

  • Tobias2772

    It’s my life and I’ll die if I want to

  • http://twitter.com/liberalanon Formerly Not Guilty

    Oh we are working out of it. Should happen after we oust our current conservative government. There have been a few big stories lately and the case has gone back to the Supreme Court, which did decide previously against the right to die but I think the decision will change.


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