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 editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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