Don’t blame weapon in suicide

I am saddened by Dr. Archie Bleyer’s March 8 opinion piece “Suicide is a valid reason to reduce firearm availability” in The Bulletin.

It appears the Bleyer believes that if the government takes away firearms from the general public, suicide rates will go down. I disagree: Suicide is the most personal act an individual can commit. The method of carrying out that decision is of no consequence. I have lost my grandfather (pistol) and favorite uncle (rifle) to suicide. I firmly believe with help, possibly medication and support, this would not have happened, but I do not blame the weapons.

It annoys me that Bleyer chooses to prey on those unfortunates who suffer from demons we do not know to advance an agenda promoting gun control under the guise of helping reduce suicide and public suffering. In the second paragraph of his opinion piece, he identifies “another strategy” for expanding background checks by addressing in the media “self-inflicted harm by attempted suicide.”

This is reprehensible! To use the suffering of those of us who are left to advance an agenda that does not attempt to alleviate, reduce, improve or assuage the tragedy, but to capitalize on that suffering only to promote personal goals, should be condemned by every human on this planet.

The moral issue surrounding suicide is another topic. It is not illegal to commit suicide in Oregon. It may be condemned by conventional religion. It may be a metamorphosis to another life. It may have no cosmic effect at all; we do not know. But to use a sorrowful (in my case) event for your own gain should be viewed with disdain.

We have powerful forums to discuss the issues that confront us daily. We should use them to better all of our lives. Suicide is a painful and important topic; so is gun control or the lack of it. Let us be aware that hidden agendas do none of us any good and we should pursue truth and healing in the light of reason. RIP Uncle Jack.

Zeke Duge


Use the census

I happened to read the March 12 letter by John Parr describing the sad case of an elderly man who, though born in the U.S., could not provide a birth certificate and was therefore denied renewal of his driver’s license.

Why aren’t DMV staff informed that there are various ways to prove citizenship besides a birth certificate? Any hobby genealogist could tell them how.

The Census Bureau’s records of decennial censuses are now publicly available through 1940. It’s almost a sure thing that the elderly gentleman would appear in one of them, and the record would show the state of his birth. Say the man was born in 1930, he might be in the 1930 census if born before April; he would likely also be in the 1940 census and in all other censuses through 2010.

There’s a 72-year lag before decennial censuses are made public to protect the privacy of living persons. But the Census Bureau used to provide information from censuses not yet generally public, if a person needed the information for some official purpose, such as attending school or getting a driver’s license, and I believe they still would.

Elizabeth Van Staaveren


Hold officials accountable

In the spirit of democratic debate, I am responding to a March 6 op-ed piece written by Peter Schneider, which I read with curiosity and interest.

The job of the City Council is to set policy, to research and to make the most informed decisions possible in the best interest of our community. Today’s councilors live with decisions past councils have made. It’s a reality. It’s also a reality that we face expensive infrastructure projects today, because the city didn’t invest in them earlier.

Schneider asserts that a city employee, Tom Hickmann, should be held accountable for the council’s (in his opinion, poor) decision regarding the choice of surface water treatment. But city staff members don’t make big financial decisions; councilors do. Directions given to city staff on the surface water pipeline replacement project span at least three councils.

While I may agree with Schneider’s preferred water treatment option, I disagree that any staff person should become the focal point in an upcoming City Council election, as Schneider’s letter alluded to.

From my point of view, city staff, including Hickmann, has continually tried to present responsible alternatives, using all accessible information and following direction from a majority of elected councilors.

If I do my job well as a councilor, staff will understand the importance of the community’s values that underlie alternatives, and they will present choices that fall within councilors’ parameters.

Thankfully, in this democracy, your elected leaders are making these decisions. Vote thoughtfully.

Sally Russell

Bend city councilor