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Jacqueline Haskins Engel: Disagrees with philosophy on planned suicide

To the editor:

I am responding to Laurie Loisel’s interview with Lee Hawkins, “Life and Death” (July 31). Though Ms. Hawkins has every right to make personal decisions about her own life and death, and Ms. Loisel shows her fine writing skills in the telling, I take exception with some of Ms. Hawkin’s philosophy regarding suicide. There also appears to be an obsessive focus on her planned suicide, with her family and friends held captive as she engages them in ongoing conversation about her intentions.

Every act, and particularly the act of suicide, has numerous repercussions on other people. Though one may have the right to choose to act, when carefully executing an end-of-life plan, thoughtful consideration needs to be given to the profound effects on loved ones who helplessly stand by through the progression of that process. Choosing starvation as a method of suicide is particularly difficult to comprehend when there are so many people in the world who are starving and still fight to stay alive even one more day.

Writing from a Christian perspective, my beliefs differ from Ms. Hawkins in that I believe that life is given and life will be taken and in between we have limited control over how a life will evolve and often how it will end. Fear and suffering occur throughout life, and the end stage is no exception. There are, however, multiple ways available to manage and minimize the difficult struggles that accompany the dying process that allow for death to occur with peace and dignity.

Choosing and planning a dramatic, painful exit that may take an extended time to accomplish appears not to lend itself to heroism. Sadly, it seems to me it only serves to diminish an otherwise valued and valuable life.

Jacqueline Haskins Engel



Jim Harvey: We need to constantly re-examine old truths

Monday, August 12, 2013

To the editor: I am writing in response to a recent letter “Disagreeing with philosophy on planned suicide,” which commented on Laurie Loisel’s July 31 story about Lee Hawkins of Northampton. As a retired Christian pastor and as one who is closer to the end of life than the beginning, I was troubled by the writer’s assertion that as a …

'Can I take control before it takes control of me?': Northampton woman plans how she will die

Monday, June 17, 2013

NORTHAMPTON - City resident Eleanor “Lee” Hawkins is sitting at her dining room table with her children, Sue Hawkins, 58, and Jerry Hawkins, 55, early one evening in June, talking about a subject many families find almost too painful to discuss: death. Hawkins, 89, lives at the Lathrop Communities’ Bridge Road campus. Her three children — Sue, Jerry, and Becky …

Legacy Comments3

Ms. Haskins Engel, If your beliefs differ from Ms. Hawkins so be it. Please keep your opinions to yourself and let this woman do as she wishes, it's none of your business.

So people are free to express their opinions as long as they agree with you? While I disagree with Mrs Engels position, she has as much right to express her opinion as Lee Hawkins did in the story.

Can't imaging not wanting to live as long as possible. I think the theoretical limit is 140 or so. Thats how long I want to be around - at least that long. Life is too short to think about ending it. We are here for a moment in space/time. To quote Empire of the Sun - Alive (#1 song in the world right now - I hope to see them in Boston Sept 8th) Loving every minute 'cause you make me feel so alive, alive Loving every minute 'cause you make me feel so alive, alive Alive, alive http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCcHgPSwZbc

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