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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life is the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Monday, April 25

Suicide

I remember when I used to teach vocabulary, I’d start with a Latin root and then add prefixes, showing students how the prefixes would lead them to other words. One of the roots I used was -cide (to kill or cut down), and the often used words with which most of my students were already familiar: homicide, genocide, suicide, etc. But there are also a ton of words that lead to other words: patricide (father killing) leading to patriarch, patrimony, pater familias, patriotic, patronymic, paternal, etc.; matricide (mother killing) leading to matriarch, matrimony, matron; and on through the family killings with fratricide (brother), sororicide (sister), infanticide (baby), mariticide (husband), uxoricide (wife), filicide (son or daughter). Then on to kings (regicide), nasty little bugs (pesticide), enemies (hosticide), wolves (lupicide), and even kangaroos (macropicide). But back to my original intent, the word for killing oneself, suicide. The prefix sui- leads almost nowhere. There’s suigeneris, meaning unique, and suijuris, meaning legally competent to handle one’s own affairs. How can one kill oneself? There are quick but gruesome ways, like leaping off a tall building, the shotgun in mouth and toe to trigger as Hemingway did, the slashed wrists in a bathtub, the deliberate auto crash as Sinatra attempted in Young at Heart, the rope over a tree branch or ceiling light and a kicked-over chair, running headfirst into a concrete wall as some Sing Singers try, or the ritual seppuku (or hara kiri) in which the Japanese suicider uses a short blade to disembowel himself (Oh, double yuck!). Slower but less messy ways: the long walk out into a blizzard, the deliberate drowning by swimming out into stormy lake or sea, the asphyxia with running auto in closed garage or the plastic bag tied over the head, and the ingestion of bottles and bottles of booze or bottles and bottles of prescription or non-prescription drugs. That opens the door to what is legal and what is illegal regarding suicide. It’s against the law to kill oneself, but if one is successful, how does a court mete out punishment? Refuse burial? Take a fine out of the estate? Send a relative to jail as in loco parentis (or in this case, in loco suicidis)? And to my knowledge, no one who tries and is unsuccessful is ever arrested and tried for attempting to kill himself. Presently, we’re at a sticky legal place regarding one’s right to die, especially when one’s quality of life is unacceptable, or if one is suffering pain and facing monumental medical bills. It seems to me that most of us are suijuris (legally competent to make that decision for ourselves). The main argument against such legislation is that some might abuse the law, relatives who would consider the medical costs as exorbitant and would then talk a dying relative into the early death. And at what stage are we still competent or suddenly incompetent to make such a decision? Where in the sand is that line drawn? Jack Kevorkian went to prison for his suicide assistance. Brittany Maynard, young lady with incurable brain cancer, had to move to Oregon to be euthanized. She had this to say about her decision: "I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don't deserve this choice? That I deserve to suffer for weeks or months in tremendous amounts of physical and emotional pain? Why should anyone have the right to make that choice for me?" Right now, in addition to the six states with such laws, over a dozen states are considering some form of Right-to-Die legislation. I would hope that soon all states will do so and will pass such legislation. I’d also like to add one more word to my list of -cide words—“udicide.” There is no such word, but I think there should be.

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