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    • The legal prohibition on suicide is fundamentally religious, isn’t it? According to Wikipedia, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all forbid suicide. Hinduism forbids it except by fasting to death.
      And of course there are legitimate concerns about failing to prevent a depressive person from committing suicide (since the depressive episode is hopefully not permanent).
      Also, one doesn’t want suicide to be expected for old people whom society doesn’t want to take care of.
      But if one takes care to ensure that a suicide is not suffering from a temporary mental illness, and is not being pressured to die, I don’t see what legitimate reason anyone could have to interfere in someone’s right to take her/his own life.

      • I would say the prohibition on suicide is more of an ethical and public policy question.

        It’s all very well to say one should “ensure that a suicide is not suffering from a temporary mental illness, and is not being pressured to die,” but given less-than-perfect human beings and systems, the likelihood is high that some people will be pressured to agree, or even “assisted” against their will.

        We need only look at capital punishment in the USA, where a distressingly high number of death row inmates turn out, if investigated by competent investigators, to be clearly innocent or to have been convicted under such dubious circumstances that their convictions get thrown out.

        The policy question is: how many non-consensual suicides are we willing to accept in return for allowing those who wish to die to get assistance in doing so?

      • These religions claim that this life is temporary and not as good as the one yet to come. Given that, prohibiting suicide is the only logical choice least the most devout decide to move on to their reward prematurely, no?

        • I suspect the religious prohibition against suicide is related to religious anti-birth control policies: trying to out-populate the rival religions. Also people whose lives are wretched may be more likely to seek solace in their religions if they are forced to live beyond their preferred span.

      • “The legal prohibition on suicide is fundamentally religious, isn’t it?”

        I do not know what you mean by “fundamentally,” but it is not entirely religious. Disability groups have shown that in Oregon often expensive treatments for the disabled and very elderly are not covered, but assisted suicide is. Some disabled and many elderly already have suicidal thoughts issues, and they feel these laws combined with our insurance system nudge them into suicide.

    • In reply to amm1:
      I take your point, but I think we also need to ask ourselves how many people need to die lingeringly and painfully against their will in return for ensuring that no one feels any external pressure to commit suicide?
      Now, if the prohibition against suicide were partnered with a fabulous care for the sick and elderly, I’d have more sympathy for it.

    • Just watch, “sincerely held religious beliefs” is going to be the new “teach the controversy”.

    • If anything, Scheeres’ comments should reinforce the significance of the expression ‘drink the kool-aid.’ Abandoning one’s personal judgment and moral integrity to a charismatic Leader is a kind of suicide. Even though many of the Jonestown victims only drank the potion upon coercion or by force, they had put themselves into the hands of a maniac FIRST>

      So while the actual ‘kool-aid’ was at the end of the chain, the self-destruction that made it possible was present from the beginning. Jones had shown his true face enough, well before the trip to Guyana, that the public should have disowned him. In part because of his political connections in San Francisco, and the gutless endorsement of the ‘progressive’ press; Jones was given a free ride straight to hell.

      • Sikivu Hutchinson has a piece this week about the racial aspects of the Jonestown tragedy that I found fascinating. The situation was never as simple as gullible people falling under some charismatic cult leaders sway. There were political and sociaological issues involved that complicate that tidy little story.

        I for one was never very sanguine with the “kool aid” phrase. My Dad was a radio newsman at the time and we were a family that watched and followed the news closely. It was one of the first news stories that I remember visibly shaking my Dad.

    • Re: RFRA – Nobody is ever anti-freedom. They are always standing up for someone’s rights. It may be the rights of states, religious freedom, the rights of the unborn or the authority of parents to raise their children as they see fit. You would never know from their rhetoric that they were taking anyone’s freedom away.