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Sunday, December 11, 2011

"It was only money and not her life."

Dear Editor:

I was disturbed by Mark Hume's article, "A B.C. family's secret:  How they helped their parents die," which treats as a given that a father and mother, who died via secret assisted suicides, wanted to die.  We don't know that.  What we do know is that the adult children left behind, who state that they fear prosecution, have presented a somewhat loving account of the story.  I say somewhat loving because they admittedly allowed their mother to die alone, upstairs, while they gathered together in the kitchen below.

In my life, I have not experienced children who "helped their parents to die."  I have, however, had contact with women abused by their spouses, who outright deny that the abuse occurs.  The victim protects the perpetrator.  I have an older friend who wired $5000 to a stranger who had phoned impersonating her grandson.  Yes, she acted voluntarily to send the money, but she had been manipulated to do so.  When she later realized what had happened, she was so embarrassed, it took her three weeks to tell me.  The money was long gone.  But it was only money and not her life.

The Government of Canada website describes elder abuse as a widespread and hidden problem.  The abuse is often perpetrated by family members such as the adult children described in Humes' article.  We can't stop the abuse now.  Relaxing our laws on assisted suicide will only increase it.  I can only hope that our country does not take this course.

[Editor, this is a link to the Government of Canada website:  http://www.seniors.gc.ca/c.4nt.2nt@.jsp?lang=eng&geo=110&cid=154#e    You may also be interested in this study describing the high prevalence of elder abuse in the United States:  http://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/broken-trust-elder-abuse.html#findings ]

Annette Turgeon