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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 7, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman: better treatment options; responsibility of the abuser

Victoria Will / Invision/AP

The death of talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been all over the news [“Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead with syringe in arm,” Nation & World, Feb. 2]. It seems about time that we realize that our present method of dealing with substance abuse has not worked.

We persist in taking the idea that making them criminal is the best way, despite everything from prohibition of alcohol to pot proving this to be a false solution.

It is not a criminal problem, it is a medical and education problem. Every drug, from aspirin to meth, has an upside and downside. Heroin is one of the best drugs for pain control and has much the chemical makeup of our legal painkillers.

Our prisons are jammed with people who have a different approach. How much does this cost us? How much money is funneled into the pockets of drug lords? How many policemen are corrupted? How many more good people must die because the drugs they take are unsafe?

It is time to tell our politicians and do-gooders to come up with a legal approach. Let doctors and people who have the depth of knowledge treat those that need the treatments. Be kind, most of us are addicted to something.

John Lay, Seattle

Place responsibility on the abuser

I was sorry to hear of the death of acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. But injecting heroin is obviously a pastime akin to playing Russian roulette with a revolver with five rounds in the cylinder.

You’re near certain to have a tragic end. I’ve been reading of so many celebrities ending their lives the same way that I wonder how and why it is so commonly labeled an “accidental death” when it should probably be designated something like “involuntary suicide.” Who sticks a heroin-loaded needle into his or her arm accidentally?

It would at least place the responsibility, or perhaps irresponsibility, squarely where it belongs. Involuntary manslaughter is already the right model for a comparable act. Despite it not being an act of outright will, it sets forth the responsibility of damaging or destroying a human being. Involuntary suicide just clarifies who that human victim is.

Many insurance companies already have suicide clauses that preclude or limit payment for self destruction. Is it not unreasonable to label such a self destructive act as Hoffman’s an accident and perhaps even to cover it with insurance as though it were truly accidental?

Dick Paetzke, Bothell

0 Comments | More in drugs | Topics: Dick Paetzke, John Lay, Philip Seymour Hoffman

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