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