LET’S ACTIVE: Every Word Means No

NME: Faye Hunter, bass player in the band Let’s Active, has died of an apparent suicide aged 59, it has been confirmed.  Hunter formed the band, contemporaries of REM and Pylon, in North Carolina alongside Mitch Easter and drummer Sara Romweber in 1981. The group went on to release three albums and an EP between 1983 and 1988.  Raleigh’s News & Observer newspaper report that Hunter had struggled with employment and was caring for her elderly mother at the time of her death. Jamie K. Sims, a personal friend of Hunter’s, told the paper that: “I’m not shocked, but I am surprised about the timing… She’d been talking about this for quite some time. The past three or so years were really bad.”  Sims adds: “She’d become physically worn down, very thin and having physical problems from the stress of working and caregiving. Faye was thinking about leaving, but… I guess this is the only way she could figure out how to do it.” MORE

FRESH AIR: After writing books and essays about end of life issues, and advocating for the right to die, bioethicist Margaret Battin is wrestling with the issue in her own family. Her husband, Brooke Hopkins, an English professor at the University of Utah, where she also teaches, broke his neck in a bicycle accident in 2008, leaving him with quadriplegia and dependent on life support technology. In order to breathe, he requires a ventilator some of the time and a diaphragmatic pacer all the time. He receives his nutrition through a feeding tube. Hopkins’ living will gives him the right to decline this technology and although he’s chosen to keep living, there have been times he’s told his wife he wants to die, and she’s had to decide how literally to interpret his words. In her academic life, Battin has also had to reflect on the positions she’s taken in the past to see if she still believes in them. She and her husband are in their early 70s. She’s a distinguished professor of philosophy and still teaches full time. When he’s doing well, and not suffering from one of the many infections that have plagued him since the accident, he’s able to do some teaching from his home, talk with friends who come to visit, go in his wheelchair on walks with his wife and even occasionally get taken to a concert or museum. Battin and Hopkins were profiled in the of last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Battin tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about what happened right after the accident, and the responsibility of deciding if someone is genuine in their wish to die.  MORE