Speakout: Readers' Comments
The Depression DebateTo respond to James L. Werth's letter on depression and hastened death in the spring 2005 issue: One concern is that if there is such a medical deterioration that death is imminent; there may not be enough time to treat the depression.
There are also some individuals who have severe clinical depression that recurs repeatedly, chronically, and never fully remits. They live with it constantly ... even when treated expertly, their depression is going to come back.
In some ways, the psychological pain is just as real and severe as the physical pain of end-stage cancer. After 20, 30 or even 40 years of exacerbations and recessions, some depressives simply can't continue. They have reached their end stage.
Do we really have the right to say, "Because you have a disease that is psychiatric in nature, you don't have the right to opt out?"
-- Talyah Fineberg, M.S. E.D., L.P.N., New Jersey
Feeding TubesMy mom had Alzheimer's disease for five years before she died at the age of 85. She couldn't walk or talk. When the question of a feeding tube came up, I was against it. She had told me in no uncertain terms not to prolong her life by artificial means. She was quite definite.
I agree. Don't ever give me a feeding tube! I wouldn't call this starvation. A feeding tube is an invention of medical doctors -- they often do more harm with drugs and operations.
Is this a rant? Perhaps -- but I feel deeply in these matters. Let common sense prevail!
-- Ed Gustafson, Indiana
Oregon Under AttackI see that the Bush Administration is again trying to criminalize the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
Twice the people of Oregon have exercised their Constitutional rights and passed this law. To criminalize such action would violate the right of people to vote.
During the height of the Kevorkian affair in Michigan, an official of the Detroit Diocese told a reporter, "Suffering is good for the soul."
I am an 86-year-old World War II veteran. I don't have much time left. When my time comes to go, I don't want the president to ring my doorbell and say, "Frederic, suffering is good for your soul and we want you to enjoy a lot of it before you go." I hope the Supreme Court will uphold the right of the people to pass laws affecting their lives.
-- Frederic Adams, Michigan
Teens Speak Out"Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death." This insight by Erik H. Erickson reminds people that everyone will die and if a person keeps in mind that death is a promise, he or she will not be afraid to live.
People should be able to live enjoyably without the fears and burdens of death slowing the sunshine of their lives. Although winter may seem, cold and dreary, it holds a hint of hope with each falling snowflake. Winter dies so that spring may live -- every beginning requires an ending. Thank you for your continuous efforts to help those who are suffering.
-- Rachel, Westlake High School, California
Keeping anybody alive against their will in a forceful or restrictive manner is not moral. Why shouldn't people be allowed to die with dignity and honor?
A person should be allowed the right to die with assistance -- death should not be denied. I highly appreciate the efforts of Compassion & Choices. Please continue your work!
-- Michael, Westlake High School, California
Editor's note: Many thanks to all the students from Westlake High School who wrote in to voice their opinions on choice in dying!
This article was provided by Compassion & Choices. It is a part of the publication Compassion & Choices Magazine.