Susan Griffiths, a Canadian atheist with a terminal brain disease, decided to end her life on Thursday via assisted suicide in spite of a Christian man saying she would go to hell (video below).
Under Canadian law, committing suicide is not illegal, but physician-assisted suicide is a crime, despite widespread support.
"Somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of Canadians support the idea," said Arthur Schafer, at the University of Manitoba, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. "In some polls it’s as high as 80 percent. You’d have to look hard to find a controversial topic on which so many people are united."
The 72-year-old Griffiths traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, for a legal assisted suicide after being diagnosed with multiple system atrophy. At a clinic, she drank a combination of water and pentobarbital and then passed away.
“I have to go to Switzerland because there’s no such service in Canada for Canadians who are drastically ill and want not to live anymore,” Griffiths told the Winnipeg Free Press. “But it’s what I want because I do not want to live in the conditions that I have now.”
The Winnipeg Free Press reporter, Lindor Reynolds, who chronicled Griffiths' story, said that she was contacted by a Christian man who warned that Griffiths would “go to hell” if she did the assisted suicide.
“The day after my story about Susan ran, I got a phone call from a distressed man,” said Reynolds. “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.”
Sources: Winnipeg Free Press