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What is the United Methodist stance on assisted suicide?


The United Methodist Church opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia.

We believe that suicide is not the way a human life should end. Often suicide is the result of untreated depression, or untreated pain and suffering. The church has an obligation to see that all persons have access to needed pastoral and medical care and therapy in those circumstances that lead to loss of self-worth, suicidal despair, and/or the desire to seek physician-assisted suicide. 

Historically, the Christian tradition has drawn a distinction between the cessation of treatment and the use of active measures by the patient or caregiver which aim to bring about death.

As human interventions, medical technologies are only justified by the help that they can give. Their use requires responsible judgment about when life-sustaining treatments truly support the goals of life, and when they have reached their limits. There is no moral or religious obligation to use them when the burdens they impose outweigh the benefits they offer, or when the use of medical technology only extends the process of dying. Therefore, families should have the liberty to discontinue treatments when they cease to be of benefit to the dying person. However, the withholding or withdrawing of life sustaining interventions should not be confused with abandoning the dying or ceasing to provide care. 

If death is deliberately sought as the means to relieve suffering, that must be understood as direct and intentional taking of life … The United Methodist tradition opposes the taking of life as an offense against God's sole dominion over life, and an abandonment of hope and humility before God. 

Yet, even as we oppose the deliberate ending of life, we continue to affirm that nothing, including suicide, separates us from God’s love and grace (Romans 8:38-39). Those whose pain and suffering compel them to commit suicide should not be condemned, nor should their surviving family and friends suffer from the stigma around suicide. Our role as faith communities is to surround with love and care those who are at risk, those who have survived a suicide attempt, and those who have lost loved ones.

— Excerpted and adapted from the Book of Discipline 2012, "Social Principles: The Nurturing Community, Suicide” and the Book of Resolutions 2012, "Faithful Care for Persons Suffering and Dying."

Related articles:

Book of Discipline: Social Principles - The Nurturing Community - Suicide
Book of Discipline: Faithful Care for Dying Persons
Book of Resolutions : Faithful Care for Persons Suffering and Dying