Ask Faye 1 – Killing Me Softly: A Rational Approach to Suicide in a Technocratic, Humanistic Age

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Faye Girsh is the Founder and the Past President of the Hemlock Society of San Diego. She was the President of the National Hemlock Society (Defunct) and the World Federation of RTD Societies (Extant). Currently, she is on the Advisory Board of the Final Exit Network and the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization.

Here we talk about rational suicide.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the work of rational suicide, dying with dignity, euthanasia, and the like?

Faye Girsh: The Right to Die movement attempts to relieve suffering and provide peace of mind to those (suffering from) ENDURING severe, chronic or terminal illnesses (or conditions) by providing legal means for a peaceful death when no other solutions are available or acceptable.

Suicide is a legal option but, to achieve a peaceful and dignified death, assistance is often necessary. ASSISTING A SUICIDE IS NOT LEGAL EXCEPT IN THOSE STATES AND COUNTRIES WITH AN AID IN DYING LAW.

We believe people should be able to choose a non-violent, quick and certain death consistent with their values and beliefs.

Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, how are these important for the general advancement of a humanistic ethic?

Girsh: Alleviating suffering, promoting choice and control of one’s life are all achieved by permitting a gentle death of one’s choosing.

Jacobsen: What makes a particular effort to advance rational suicide more effective than others? 

Girsh: A lot has to do with the ethos of the country or community. Surveys tell us that opposition to a humane death is correlated with the frequency of church attendance.  Religious opposition to control over one’s own life and death stems from a hierarchical system in which humans are at the bottom.

One’s fate is predetermined or determined by a higher authority. Independent thinking is punished by adverse results in an afterlife. In the US those states where church attendance is low have been the ones who MORE READILY HAVE permittED aid in dying, eg., Oregon, Washington, and California — and now there are more.

Many religious people now see that the alleviation of unnecessary suffering is consistent with their beliefs and support aid in dying. 

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Faye.

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican Atheists,American Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash

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