Letting death happen, is it suicide?
October 11th, 2012
01:53 PM ET

Letting death happen, is it suicide?

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

(CNN) – Grace Sung Eun Lee is going to die. The 28 year old former bank manager has advanced terminal brain cancer.

The once vibrant, athletic woman is now kept alive by machines which she wanted to turn off. However, her devoutly religious parents convinced her that she was effectively committing suicide, and that she would be condemned to hell.

So she changed her mind.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Death

soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Eugene Tenenbaum

    "Suicide is the act of killing oneself intentionally" (see Webster Dictionary), and "inaction [to support life] is absence of action, ..." and thus not suicide. Similarly, but backwards, the Supreme Court ruled that the Obama-care was not a regulation of absence of universal healthcare commerce, but an act of taxation. However, for the religious people it does not matter. Their concern is whether or not an act is sinful. Escaping obligations seems to be a sin/act of cowardice. Ending life without obligations seems to be private/acceptable also according to the Bible, as described in the following open letter.

    October 10, 2012

    Ms Grace Sung Eun Lee
    North Shore University Hospital
    300 Community Drive
    Manhasset, NY 11030

    Re: Your decisions do not fulfill the biblical criteria for sin.

    Dear Grace:

    Since you are a free person and bedridden, i.e. without God-given obligations to people, your decisions on medical procedures for your healthcare cannot be sinful, as not in accord with victim's (your) cry (of distress) (Gen. 18:20), which sins must cause (Gen. 18:21) to be judged as such by God (Gen. 19:13), but which did not occur and thus not reach God (Gen. 19:13). However, if your father was your master so your life belonged to him, or if your decisions affected your obligation to honor your father and your mother (Ex. 20:12), the said criterion would have been fulfilled by his cry over the loss of property or support respectively.

    While you are a free person and you cannot support nor thus victimize your parents, his actions – as to prevent you from deciding (without crying) on medical procedures for your healthcare – met all three (3) God's criteria for (being judged as) sins. First, the Bible indicates the said rule that sins are judged as such in response to victim's cry as per the God's way so as to do justice and judgment (Gen. 18:19) all people are blessed with (Gen. 18:18). Second, you cried over your father's actions – as to prevent your decisions free of any victim's cry (not victimizing him) – in violation (Gen. 6:11, 13) of that God-given rule. Third, men (Gen. 19:10) and God saw your father acting in accord with your cry (Gen. 18:22). [...]

    –Eugene Tenenbaum

    October 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  2. biobraine

    I hope she is out of pain soon. There is a good deal of suffering that all forms of life feel. When we pass away, all suffering will end. I could never understand why people would want to live forever. If you choose to believe in the empty promises of religions created by men that didn't understand the world as we know it and did their best to explain the world based upon what they knew at the time, that is your call. I have no reason to believe that any gods currently or previously existed or that they have anything whatsoever to do with our lives. And before you start replying with some bible verse or recommend I go read the bible, let me just stop you there and say that I've been there and done that. That is one screwed up book of fairy tales some of you follow.

    October 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  3. Kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth.. Is exclusive

    October 15, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • .


      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "The Truth" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian..

      October 15, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • G8R

      So all that to tell us you now suffer from delusions? Why not just type "I'm bat sh!t crazy" and save us all the time of reading that tripe?

      October 16, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • JellyBean

      This dude has been plastering this cr ap all over CNN. Why the heck don't the IT folks block this tool? Enough already.

      October 16, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    October 15, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • WASP

      @ things: if it's proven then please prove it. should be simple enough, otherwise your god is a lie and you are an idiot.

      October 15, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Jesus

      You're a proven liar. Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~..

      October 15, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • another repentant sinner

      Prayer changed my life.
      There should never be a threat or penalty for Truth . Truth just is. Prayer changes things

      October 15, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Which God?

      @ things. Prayer isn't helping this dying woman is it? Where is your god now? You are a troll and a fool.

      October 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • G8R

      Since atheism is the fastest growing segment of our population, you might want to consider reconciling yourself with the fact that you might very well be wrong.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • truth be told

      Atheism is not the "fastest" growing segment of our society. Those deluded into thinking they are atheists remain about 1% of the total population, agnostics and those without affiliation are not atheists.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • WASP

      @another/ athiesm is healthy: do you seriously think i'm that ignorant to not figureout that it was your trolling ass replying to your own post? lmfao idiot. prayer hasn't changed anything ever in human history other than the size of the coffers in church.
      your god hasn't once, not a single fracking time saved a single human from death. we are still dying for all the "sacrifice" your immortal jesus did for us. is your god that truly weak that he can't keep your mother alive for you, or how about saving your child from death?
      when your god truly saves a person life that jumped off a building that was burning or saves a dying mother tryingt o save her child, then i will believe................until then it is all MYTHOLOGY.

      October 16, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • biobraine

      Truth be told,
      Here is the truth being told: "The past seven years have seen a fivefold increase in people who call themselves atheists, to 5% of the population, according to WIN-Gallup International, a network of pollsters. Meanwhile, the proportion of Americans who say they are religious has fallen from 73% in 2005 to 60% in 2011" This was taken from an article in The Economist. It is heartening to see just how quickly people are abandoning the empty promises of organized religion and learning to embrace the life we have here and now without any of the false promises of an afterlife invented by early civiliation to both deal with the fear of dying and to use that fear to control the way people think and act.

      October 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  5. correctlycenter

    Paul tell us in 2nd Timothy 4:16-18: " But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength, that I might preach the Good News in all it's fullness for all the gentiles to hear. And He saved me from certain death. Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me home safely to His heavenly Kingdom. To God be the glory forever and ever, amen." Nothing is impossible to the Lord God Almighty! If it is His will for her to continue to live, it will be so...

    October 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • WASP

      @incorrectly: hey genius if it wasn't for SCIENCE technology in the field of medicine she would be dead already. "advanced terminal brain cancer.
      The once vibrant, athletic woman is now kept alive by machines."

      your god has nothing to do with it. he isn't keeping her alive a vintilator and feeding tubes are keeping her body funtioning, if it wasn't for those things and the efforts of the medical professionals around her she would have died a long time ago. your god doesn't exsist, how can you folks not see this? if god did exsist how can you explain the millions of children starving to death everyday, the women being brutalized, the young men dying daily from street violence, babies being thrown in dumpsters or shaken to death by god fearing parents? there is no god, never has been and never will be; he is a lie to make primitive humans feel better about not understanding what was happening around them.

      October 16, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      So a good loving god wishes for someone to suffer horribly? Wowzers...what a morbid imaginary friend you have there!

      October 16, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  6. Jesus suffered

    So that in suffering you would find the love of God.

    October 14, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Not much of a sacrifice if he didn't really die!!!

      October 14, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • captain america

      No one in America needs or wants the opinion of some foreign pos like liar prefails, tell the unwanted ass hole to take a hike. There's your sign

      October 14, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      captain ass: Once again you have failed the basic literacy test...The phrase 'International News Station' means that it is seen all over the world and thus our opinion matters. Did you win the lottery and buy CNN yet? Until you do that, your opinion will not matter to anyone either. Now be a good little child and run off to the school for brainwashing.

      October 14, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • Jesus suffered

      A shame and pain that is undeserved by a holy, omnipotent God. No man would have paid so much to gain so little grati tude.

      October 14, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • G8R

      Truth is right. How is dying a sacrifice if you know you'r ecoming back in three days. That's not death, that's a good nap. So Jesus napped for your sins. Oh the humanity!!! lol

      October 16, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • nope


      October 16, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  7. LC

    If letting death happen is suicide then so is jumping on a hand grenade in order to save your fellow soldiers.

    October 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  8. Droopy Dong

    There isn't a single chank in the bible! What makes you think there will be any in heaven?

    October 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      considering the Semites are from Asia, exception to the Amalekites who are of Celtic decent. Palestinians/Canaans/Hebrews are Asian IE ch!nks, hence all the Easter philosophy in the Bible.

      don't take my word for it get a map what continent is Israel in.

      October 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but everything you have ever asserted regarding atheism and prayer is unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 13, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  10. Sin Breaker

    † Yeshua conquered the grave! Now you can too! †

    October 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • End Religion

      Help! We're surrounded by zombies!

      October 13, 2012 at 5:15 am |
    • Sam Yaza

      the only good zombie is a dead one, kill the shuffler Christ

      October 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • WASP

      @sin: your jesus "supposedly" came back from the dead. one major failing there, no person regardless of how devote has ever return from the dead..............i mean brain dead, clinical death and come back.
      if that was possible mother teresa would be walking around the earth right now. so long story short your bible is a lie written during the fall of rome to attempt to save the failing empire.

      October 15, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  11. Ting

    Dear Mr and Mrs Lee,

    God gave your daughter the cancer. Let him save her. If your God expects her to suffer or else spend an eternity suffering, all I have to say is, sounds about right. You worship the most hateful, intolerant, and evil God ever invented.

    October 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Sin Breaker

      † We need prayer in schools †

      October 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • End Religion

      We need prayer in schools about as much as we need a second appendix.

      October 13, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • Sam Yaza

      Ting i agree and the other guy

      if we have prayer in school i want my child to pray to her/his God/Goddess

      so unless you want prayers to Athena, or Amaterasu in school its best if we just have no prayer at all

      eather no God or all Gods, monotheism is a lie, just one God is evil

      October 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • WASP

      @sam: i vote we have children pray to amuntet. after you die he eats the evil person's heart to torture them forever. buahahahahahahahaha.............(cough cough) anyone got a lazange?

      October 15, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  12. Sam Yaza

    so she lives attached to a machine, and that's life?

    let me tell you something no mater what your parent believes, the truth is death by suicide is no different then death it self. your still going to the same place, were you are. from soil you came to soil you will return. THERE IS NO JUDGMENT! live your life trying to make your next life better to live. improve the quality of life around you if not it is you who suffer. Death! there is no such thing as death, life goes on in cycles

    October 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  13. Damocles

    Since I had no say in my birth, I hope I am allowed to have some small say in my death.

    October 12, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      Do not expect it either, birth and death is in good lord's hand,

      October 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • WASP

      @human: so the person that is shot in a robbery, god had control of his death? i can imagine that helps his children and wife sleep better at night knowing god lead the gunman to him.
      seeing god i omnipotent he knows the gunman will shoot the shopowner and allows it to happen.
      however god is all-powerful so he could stop the shooting merely with a thought, but chooses not to.
      yet god is all loving, so that would mean god can't allow that person to get shot if he loves him as a child.
      thus it all leads to THERE IS NO GOD.

      October 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @WASP – non-sequitor.You've assumed that God doesn't have a purpose in this death, yet you didn't provide any evidence to such claim.

      October 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • End Religion

      l4h: we've been waiting thousands of years for any proof of god. Not a shred exists. Until it does, god does not exist, and has nothing to do with life or death.

      October 13, 2012 at 5:22 am |
    • WASP

      @4him: what purpose would god have for death? the only purpose i see in this woman's slow painful death is to appease her family's ill concieved notion of an after-life.

      bluntly put, if this was my mother or other loved one; if they wanted the pain to stop and i had the power to do so, i would see to it the pain lasted no more...........whatever it cost me.
      yes it would lead to me being arrested, yes it would lead to a court trial, yes i would win and change the laws governing assisted death. no human deserves to suffer undue pain for an illness that has no cure, aka terminal.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • cristopher hitchens

      With any luck hopefully a judge in Texas or Florida will have some say in your death.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • === o ===

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "cristopher hitchens" (odd name for a fundie) degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" denerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • milk

      @ o
      Got proof?

      October 16, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • .

      "milk" who degenerates to:

      This troll is not a christian..

      October 16, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  14. Irrational Exuberance

    Yes, pulling the plug on yourself is effectively suicide. The same as if you choose not to eat, or choose not to drink water you will eventually die.

    Refraining from acting may be a form of suicide.

    It is still her choice.

    If you think your god demands we endure as much suffering during our lifetimes as is possible in order to be granted the opportunity to commune with such an ent.ity for all eternity I think you should carefully evaluate the quality of your company before inflicting such suffering upon yourself.

    Do you really want to hang out with an enti.ty who by their motivation is indistinguishable from Marquis de Sade for all of eternity?

    October 12, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I quite like the Marquis de Sade.

      October 12, 2012 at 7:43 am |
1 2 3
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.