IN THE Sept. 27 letter “Discard euphemism of ‘death with dignity’ - it’s suicide,’’ Janet Callahan asks, “Does anyone doubt that mental anguish can be as great as physical pain?’’ Yes, I doubt it. In fact, I assert that physical pain is much worse. People routinely refuse to take antidepressants, or wean themselves off them, but I have never heard of someone refusing Novocain when having serious dental work done, or refusing some form of painkilling during surgery.
I can also tell the difference between someone in the painful end stages of a terminal illness and a depressed but otherwise healthy young person. Though the young person may not believe it, he or she has the potential for a long and fulfilling life. Many depressed young people go on to have such lives. The same cannot be said of a terminally ill, pain-wracked person with only a month to live and no prospects of anything better.