An honest discussion about end-of-life care | Letter

An honest discussion is needed

Helping those in crisis in San Juan County” in the Feb. 28 edition of the Journal missed a critical discussion. It obfuscated how one deals with terminating one’s life in a dignified manner. When choices are withheld people resort to any means which often becomes traumatic for everyone! Choices are almost non-existent for those facing a life of suffering and misery. Studies show 2/3 of those wishing to end their lives, due to a serious, debilitating illness, are persuaded not to by others. This only prolongs the inevitable end and the accompanying suffering which includes the society that has to use finite and dwindling resources. This becomes a draining situation for all. One major resource ignored is the financial burden needed to sustain one’s life and that becomes egregious when suffering is extended.

Who is going to pay for the mental health interventions mentioned? Our mental health budget has become almost non-existent. True, our state is one of only five states that have a Death With Dignity program but it does not go far enough. The Netherlands have an enhanced version of DWD and a conversation needs to be had here. The older generation is exploding and more resources will be needed and more suffering will happen unless we come up with more choice options.

The inclusion of PeaceHealth hospital only exacerbates the problem. When religion intrudes, it imposes its own brand of morality. To say that euthanasia programs are unnatural and goes against God’s plan, while at the same time, using all 21st century means to extend a life is pure hypocrisy. If one believes suffering is a part of (a) God’s plan, I say, let them. For the rest of us we need more, humane choices. Absent those choices the only alternative is a shocking, unmanaged and costly suicide and the situation will only get worse.

We talk a lot about resiliency. Do our present lack of policies helping the terminally ill deal with their own lives add to or subtract from our social resiliency? We need a more inclusive and honest discussion on this issue.

Jack Pedigo

Lopez Island