Ray Comfort Can Prevent Suicide

Your Curmudgeon has been off the internet since Wednesday night, when a lightning storm fried our super-duper AT&T modem. The demise of the modem also knocked out our telephone lines, so all we had to connect us to the world was an old cell phone. Anyway, we’re back.

After catching up on an accumulation of email and an ark-load of news articles, we decided to post about this: Award-winning Filmmaker Warns that Suicide Rates Will Soon Explode. It’s a press release touting the latest film from Ray Comfort, best known for his starring role in Ray Comfort’s “Banana video”. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Experts report that suicide in the United States has already reached epidemic proportions, with more than 40,000 taking their lives each year. The rate for teens has tripled since the 1950s, and suicide is now the second leading cause of death among college students.

Well, what would it be for college students — Alzheimer’s disease? Then Comfort’s press release says:

Filmmaker Ray Comfort, whose movies have been seen by millions, expects that trend to only increase. He identifies two major restraints in American culture that have kept past generations from suicide, which are lacking in society today. “In the 1950s more than 98% of Americans believed in the existence of God, so comparatively few chose suicide because of their religious convictions that it is morally wrong,” Comfort says. “The second restraint was that those who believed in God had purpose for existence and the hope of eternal life.”

Wikipedia has an article on Suicide in the United States, but it doesn’t mention religion (or lack thereof) as a major cause of suicide. Among other factors, they say: “Suicide has been associated with tough economic conditions, including unemployment rate.” Well, what do they know compared to Ray Comfort? The press release tells us:

Comfort notes that in recent years, more than ten million people have cast off the belief that they are morally accountable to God and that life has any meaning, which he attributes to a rise in atheism and belief in naturalistic evolution.

Someone should inform Comfort that Correlation does not imply causation. Otherwise, someone could claim that illegal immigration into the US is causing increased suicide.

There are quote marks around this next excerpt, so we assume these are Comfort’s own words:

Atheism not only offers freedom from moral responsibility, but it means that there is no restraint against suicide. Couple life’s pains with a purposeless and hopeless worldview, and taking your life becomes a viable option.”

To our surprise, Comfort’s press release cites an authority for his proposition, but it provides no link or footnote. Also the ellipsis in the middle of it is in the press release, so make of it what you will. Here it is:

A study on suicide by The American Journal of Psychiatry confirms this perspective. It reports, “Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts…Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide.”

Hold on, dear reader. Before you swallow that deadly potion or pull that trigger, you should know that Comfort offers help. We’re told:

To combat this epidemic, Comfort has produced a new film called “EXIT: The Appeal of Suicide,” which he hopes will make a difference in the lives of many. “‘EXIT’ is a unique film, because it answers the big questions that the secular experts can’t answer, and at the same time offers hope to the hopeless.”

Isn’t that wonderful? If you’ve been reading Darwin and thinking of ending it all, perhaps Ray Comfort’s new film will straighten you out. Here’s the rest of the press release:

He’s also written a small companion book, How to Battle Depression and Suicidal Thoughts, that presents inspiring truths through a fictional encounter with a suicidal man.

We can’t find an Amazon listing for that “small companion book,” so it’s probably just a pamphlet. The last thing in the press release is a link to a trailer for the film. We hope this news reaches you before it’s too late.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Ray Comfort Can Prevent Suicide

  1. Christine Janis

    Suicide would make sense for a religious believer: vacate this life and move to a better place (hopefully at the right hand of God). Suicide makes no sense whatsoever for a non-believer, for as far as they are concerned this life is the only possible existance.

  2. Christine Janis,
    I think christians believe suicide is akin to buying a one way ticket to hell. To get to heaven sooner, what they logically should look for is to have someone else knock them off.

    I would also note that Comfort is confused about the difference between suicide and suicide attempts. The later most often being a cry for attention.

  3. I already answered this for Ray when he was hawking the trailer on Twitter. So according to Ray the UK where only 30% say they believe in a God should have higher rates than USA, and according to WHO list of 2015, USA is Ranked joint 48, while the UK is Ranked 123.

  4. Here’s the full paragraph (and then some) from The American Journal of Psychiatry article (it’s from Dec 2004), and a link thereto:

    “RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation. Unaffiliated subjects were younger, less often married, less often had children, and had less contact with family members. Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide. In terms of clinical characteristics, religiously unaffiliated subjects had more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder. No differences in the level of subjective and objective depression, hopelessness, or stressful life events were found.

    “CONCLUSIONS: Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients. After other factors were controlled, it was found that greater moral objections to suicide and lower aggression level in religiously affiliated subjects may function as protective factors against suicide attempts. Further study about the influence of religious affiliation on aggressive behavior and how moral objections can reduce the probability of acting on suicidal thoughts may offer new therapeutic strategies in suicide prevention.”

    http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/appi.ajp.161.12.2303

  5. Michael Fugate

    Looking at the CDC stats from 1980-2000, suicides per capita declined for all age groups. Something happen between 2000 and 2010 that caused the rates to rise in all age groups – especially among those >45.

  6. Dave Luckett

    I don’t suppose that euthanasia was considered a factor? When, as may happen, a swift and painless death is preferred to pointless extension of a pain-wracked, debilitated and extremely limited life? This option is now more available than it was, but I suppose that it would also count as suicide. And what about when the physician complies with the patient’s instructions to use maximum pain relief, even if that hastens death, to make no heroic attempts at treatment of a terminal condition, and to not revive? Is that also suicide?

  7. Derek Freyberg

    I would have thought that Ray Comfort could promote (as in, be a causative factor for) suicide – “anything to get away from that banana-waving doofus”.
    @Random:
    Thank you for the more complete quote from the Am.J.Psych. article: Ray’s quotemine makes a bit more sense when you realize it only applies to people already hospitalized with depression.

  8. Strange because a recent batch of teenage suicides were mostly linked to membership of the local New LIfe Church of Ted Haggard fame.

  9. Ah yes, claiming his fictions are meant to inspire truth. A Comfort trademark.

  10. Given that the authors of that Am J Psych article are from the USA, did they consider the fact that being openly atheist carries a stigma there to the extent that people are alienated from their families and social circles? That seldom happens in North/West-Europe.

  11. Religion does provide a supportive community for many people, which is a good thing and might help lower depression and suicide rates. Atheists, for the most part, do not have an equivalent.

    However, the real fix is not religion but becoming better at diagnosing and treating depression before people get to the point of contemplating suicide. A religious person suffering from depression who does not commit suicide only because of their belief that they will wind up in the lake of fire is still a very depressed person. Religion does not magically making that person happy.

  12. techreseller

    Suicide was a big problem in the early Christian church. The believers were promised this wonderful view of heaven. They looked at their nasty brutish short life and thought, I think I will hurry this process. Church officials had to quickly institute a ban on suicide, making committing suicide a sin. Sin and you cannot get into heaven. All this grows from the beginning.

  13. Right on techreseller – I always that that it was quite clever of the church to preach eternal bliss in the afterlife while putting the obvious quick route to getting there in the sin category, along with abortion to euthanasia. Related – it seems I remember a study that showed the religious were the most aggressive in prolonging their lives even though terminal – “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there.”