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home : opinions : letters August 27, 2015

6/7/2012 9:50:00 PM
Letter: Murder-suicide or rational solution?


I appreciated Doris Green's letter about the "murder-suicide" of the Grossmans recently. Legally that's what it was, but actually it was their solution for an unbearable situation.

Probably most readers have had dogs or cats get so old or so sick that they were "put to sleep" because it was the kind thing to do.

We call it being humane for our pets, but then we turn around and make it a crime to provide the same humane solution for humans. We irrationally refuse to allow our own species to legally end their own suffering.

We live in the same retirement community where the Grossmans lived. They both had terminal conditions, plus she had advanced Alzheimer's. Bob was an engineer, and he thought like an engineer.

Arizona is one of the 49 states which prohibit "physician-assisted suicide," so he decided to take matters into his own hands. It was a shock to our community, of course, but I haven't heard any unkind comments about it.

My wife and I have similar thoughts about terminal illness. We enjoy good health now, but when that changes we agree that we don't want to hang around and suffer for no worthwhile reason, or waste substantial resources during "the last days" when that could go for much better purposes.

Al Herron


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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, June 11, 2012
Article comment by: James Crenshaw

I am not sure why it is so hard for people to understand... If someone is suffering and death is inevitable, why shouldn't they have the choice to take their life. Of course, no one really needs the right to do so, there are plenty ways to end your own life if you want. Of course jumping from a roof, or eating a bullet, or something along those lines will work, but it is not the way most people would want to go out. It would be much nicer to just go to sleep and not wake up. They will die anyway, and it is nobodys' buisness but there own. The fact that people do kill themselves in horrible ways should say something. If putting a bullet in your head, or skydiving without a parachute, is better than what they are experiencing on a daily basis, then it is bad enough to have assistance. I say give them some help to a peacefull closing. I mostly feel bad for those who are unable to take matters into their own hands. Lacking the physical ability to turnout the lights because someone else says no. It is about the same as torcher, to extend life to continue the pain. It makes me sick this can even be a topic to argue over, and these high on life religious fanatics, with their holier than holly, ideals they read in a book written back at the end of BC begining of AD I want you all to have a long and painful end of life, just for a little more insight for what it was like for those that were denied the choice. "Praise Jesus!!"

Posted: Saturday, June 09, 2012
Article comment by: Freudian Slip?

~ sorry for the misspelled word ~
Freudian Slip perhaps? :-)


Posted: Saturday, June 09, 2012
Article comment by: Someday Soon

Someday soon, people will be able to be able to check out of this life quickly and painlessly. Whether you believe there's a better life in heaven or nirvana (extinction), it does nobody any good to suffer in extreme pain. We treat our dogs better than we treat each other! Yet we lip synch the words, "do to others as you wish them to do to you." Ask yourself and your friends, "Would you want to be kept alive on life support as a vegetable or be put to sleep?" The overwhelming answer is to be put to sleep. When will we enact our wishes into laws so we can enjoy a good quality of life and a painless death?

Posted: Saturday, June 09, 2012
Article comment by: Scott D

With all due respect I face death every moment I'm alive. It's the reason I try my damnedest to be alive every moment I can. It's also the reason I have no fear when my lights get turned off. What does scare me is that oh so very slow journey into what some call corruption. My love for life trumps my fear of death every time, and my love of life depends on being able to tend to myself. Talk about fear, just the thought that my loved ones sacrificing themselves in order to care for me, that's me description of Dante's hell.
And one other thing, what the heck does being elderly have to do with any of this?
It's a topic about Life and Death, nobody gets extra credit for length of service.

Posted: Saturday, June 09, 2012
Article comment by: @@@ Practical Matters

Dear Ryan Jenkins,
We might not agree on how to end up where we need to be, in this nation, in terms of how to treat our elderly citizens... but I want you to know that I am glad that there are people as sensative as you are in my world. It gives me hope that maybe, eventually, together, we will figure it out

Posted: Saturday, June 09, 2012
Article comment by: Diminishing Returns

@ Marianne Elizabeth Vangalio
Ever heard of the "law of diminishing returns?"

It's reasonable for a young and productive person to spend tens of thousands of dollars per year to survive.

It's reasonable for elderly people to spend all of their income/savings to survive as long as possible if that's their wish.

It's reasonable for charity, friends, and family to physically, emotionally, and financially assist elderly people and help them live longer if that's their collective wish.

But a lot of elderly people don't wish it! More than 50% of elderly people that I personally know (perhaps this is not a sampling that's representative of the majority of elderly people in the USA)
want to commit suicide or be euthanized after they become a financial burden on society and/or after their QUALITY OF LIFE reaches a lower limit.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Steven Ayres

Marianne: The line comes when one's quality of life falls below the bearable level with no reasonable prospect of improvement.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Ryan Jensen

@ Dear Practical Matters

I appreciate your service to those at the end of their lives and will flatly tell you it is something I simply could not bear to do myself. I donít have the strength. I salute you and thank you for what has to be an emotionally exhausting vocation.

But I must disagree with your take on euthanasia and/or assisted suicide.

And it is your own comment that solidified my thoughts on this matter. You write:

ďI have seen people tied to the bed, given no food or water, just morphine, until they die.Ē

Good Heavens! My eyes well with tears just re-typing your words.

In your example, it seems that families being suffocated by emotional and cost issues and - frankly - perhaps even shamanism (starvation is euphoric?) can fall prey to unscrupulous suggestions about how to handle their loved oneís final days.

And this is exactly why this issue needs to be addressed.

The decision to intentionally end oneís life in a clinical setting should be made well in advance of the need for the procedure...years...decades even.

I agreed to be an organ donor in my teens and I stand by that decision 30 years later. But if I want to change it, I still can, before my senses leave me or Iím otherwise unable to administrate my own welfare. Same thing with my will.

There is lots of talk about freedom this political season the rights of the individual. What issue could fit more snugly into that debate than the end-of-life discussion?

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Seriously ?????

Euthanasia is already widely practice. Depriving Teri Shivo of food and water was a very publicized case of euthanasia. It took this woman 2 weeks to die. If it was going to be ok to kill her then why not do it quickly? I am an RN and I have removed life support from patients and been glad to do it so that they can die in peace. Is that not the same as either euthanasia or assisted suicide? I have given larger and larger doses of morphine, (doctor ordered of course) to dying patients in pain, knowing that it will not only help their pain but hasten their death. Again, a widely accepted practice throughout the medical community. Wake up people! Guns and starvation are a terrible way to go. Lets at least make it quick and easy and painless for those that are truly at their end.

@ M.E.V. Thats a good question but the answer is easy. When treatment is no longer lifesaving or the treatment is worse than the disease.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Dear Scott D

God bless you. Clearly you do not know what it is to face death. It is unfathomable to me that an adult, would not understand that death is scarey in and of itself. The very idea that elderly people do not fear death just the same as everybody else does.... "Lord Jesus"

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Marianne Elizabeth Vangalio

If advocates of euthanasia wholeheartedly believe in this practice than why would you visit your medical practitioner for treatment? Medical treatment for your ills prolongs the inevitable.
Relative health along life's continuum eventually ends in death with or without the condition of a decease. So where do you draw the lines?

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Scott D

I feel pretty confident that it's NOT the fear of death, nor the unwillingness to take our own lives when we feel the time is appropriate, it's the ... fear that we'll mess the job up. All rational people understand this.From buying your first car to the first time you fall in love, anybody get it right first time out? The fear and the consequences of failure is probably the greatest reason it doesn't happen more often. And that is also the best argument for Legal assisted suicide.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Dear Practical Matters

Thank you for your post. Presumably you care for people at the end of their lives, as I do. What you said, needed to be said. I will try to add something if I can.

Religious views about euthanasia, are not as important, as what is already happening to the elderly. It is probably human nature to wonder what our purpose in this life is, much more so if any one of us, should live so long, that we could "God forbid" end up needing regular assistance from family, friends or community.

I have cared for numerous elderly people that were convinced by the "death with dignity crowd" that the most honorable thing to do is to stop being a burden. The foremost authority on dignified death, "shall remain nameless" sells this idea that starving to death is eupforic, pleasurable, and most importantly, dignified.

The children of these elderly people are told the same thing. They are also celebrated and supported for chosing the no-frills... ie... dignified death option for their parents. This approach is completely covered by Medicare. Many families can only afford full time care, if they choose death.

Once an elderly person and their children agree to this, there is no turning back. Let's say half way through, it is unpleasant, maybe not so euphoric... I have seen people tied to the bed, given no food or water, just morphine, untill they die.

I have known people that were not even terminally ill that lingered in that state for weeks. I shudder to think how many elderly people would be euthanized if it were a legitimate medical option. I do know who would have a corner on that market though.

Euthanasia for our elderly citizens is a can of worms that should never be opened... indeed.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Oregon & Washington

@ Practical Matters
Oregon & Washington's Death With Dignity Acts contain some good criteria for the legalization of assisted suicide, and by extrapolation, of voluntary euthanasia (and semi-annually updated advance medical directives could be part of the criteria).

Yes, it is a "can of worms" to legalize voluntary euthanasia.
However, I think it's of great importance to get more states to at least legalize assisted suicide.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: 60 Grit

We need the rational solution. Nursing homes that warehouse the aging infirm are simply obscene and inhuman. Most of us will know when the time is right -- but if for some reason I'm not aware of my own situation, I hope that society will be civilized enough to not just warehouse me somewhere.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Lena Sanchez

Chosen Euthanasia happens much more than people realize but simply isn't advertised or talked about. As a medical office nurse for 20+ years I had a lot of elderly and AIDs patients tell me they had stashed away pills to end their life when it became unbearable. Some did so but I would never mention it and I'm sure the doctors were aware of it but realized that itís a patientís right to choose quality of life or death but would lose his/her license should they let it be known... God gives us choices whether it is his choice or the personís, he still gives us those choices and he never forces! Man plays God and forces issuesÖ The sin is in the medications prescribed with the side-effects of dementia and depression stealing men/women's choices. There are very few medications that do not create those two brain problems and even more with side effects of heart problems, diabetes, etc. and to live with those infirmities can be unbearable... Keeping people alive by drugs without quality of life is a sin that does not allow them a dignified timely death in Godís time. That is man taking over God's job to allow them a dignified death... I know I watched it for years and it is even more prevalent now...

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Practical Matters

What is the plan to ensure that it is really voluntary? DNRs and living wills are contested all the time, especially when there is money involved. It is not always clear whether the person's real wishes were to pull the plug or not. Even conscious and mentally clear people in compromised situations can be taken advantage of by unscrupulous people. Opening the door on killing them is simply too big of a risk.

At the moment, it is the same as it has always been. If you are willing and able to kill yourself, as this couple was, go ahead. If you need someone else to do it, then unfortunately you are just going to have to wait. It is not worth opening up this can of worms on the rest of society to meet the needs of such a small group of people.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Ted's Perspective

The depth of inhumane treatment that is possible from a cold and uncaring government is appalling. Certainly, we would not expect individuals to suffer for no reason, especial with a terminal illness. We have comfort from the care we receive often from doctors in our community. Though there is dark side to medical care that conjures up circumstances from the dark ages. We cannot count on humane treatment always.

A recent physical by a designated doctors from out the area, brings home the point. No X Rays or MR images were looked at as the doctor bend and twisted my injured leg. Actually, I was told not to show the previous studies to doctor. I will be limping around for a while it seems from that exam. I could not imagine being a terminal ill patient and being subjected to the same indifferences.

Our health care system is made of humans, not saints. They have times we applaud their thoughtfulness. Though we are also subjected at times to their indifferences for whatever the reason may be. We should not be subject to surrendering our free will over the fate of our bodies.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: ROSEMARY RIDDLE

bless you bob - please please let there be a reason to help the old and suffering that proves nothing - im 80 and the loss of my independence and ills does not make a happy future and to say its ok to suffer - please no

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Daniel Wood

What are the logical, non-supernatural objections to voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide? Are they strong enough reasons to maintain prohibition of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide? I think not.

Government laws sometimes reflect the morality of the majority of the populace, sometimes not.
My interpretation of the 1st Amendment is that laws are not supposed to be passed if they are based solely or mainly upon supernatural belief. This is a minor flaw, and a great advantage. Religious people merely need to tell their flocks that God's law (or whatever you believe in) is superior to government law, and that our government simply is not designed to reflect supernatural morality, and that's okay. Just don't "give in" to the morality of others.

If voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide become legal, that will be TWO LESS REASONS for some people to despise religion. Religion simply is not supposed to be intertwined with law.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Steele

At 74, I have thoughts of fearing the end of life issues. Being of good health is a benefit but who knows what may be around the corner. A do not resuscitate is a good start and a carefully drafted euthanasia would not be out of the question. I see how many thousands of dollars were spent on my mother in federal funds at the end of her life when she just wanted to go.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: B. Jackson

When will all realize that a legislature can pass a law, but it will not necessarily change everyone's behavior. The best example of this is The War on Drugs . . . lots of prohibition, not so much compliance.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Slippery Slope

"We call it being humane for our pets, but then we turn around and make it a crime to provide the same humane solution for humans"

It is asinine when people compare the life an animal to that of a human being.

And once you allow someone to take another person's life - for any reason. You open the door for people to abuse it - all because they where "easing their pain".

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: yes but...

If anyone out there is planning on euthanizing themselves, a loved one or both then for Gods sake consider a more humane method than blowing someones brains out with a gun. It is hardly what you would consider euthanasia and is not always that successful.

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2012
Article comment by: Legalize Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

For people that want to hear less news stories about suicides and murder-suicides (which are often for good reasons),
encourage your Arizona legislators to whip up a voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide Act.

Also, anyone that has compassion and a conscience, please do the same.

Government should not ever require or ban euthanasia. Of course, healthcare workers should never be forced to perform euthanasia. But some are willing to do it --if it were made legal--, and there are many suffering people that would greatly benefit.

We have freedom of religion in this country, and we can't have government forcing religious beliefs upon people.
True Christians recognize this fact. We are to spread the ideas that abortion, suicide, and euthanasia are wrong (if that's what we believe), not via the government monopoly on law, but rather on a person-to-person and NGO-to-person basis.

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