In the article "Deliver Them From AIDS," mention is made that Marty James, the subject of the article, had been a counselor and executive director of the Shanti Foundation until late 1985. His alleged action in assisting people in the commission of suicide contradicts longstanding Shanti policy.
This letter is to clarify the policy of the Los Angeles Shanti Foundation regarding client suicide. The Los Angeles Shanti Foundation uses trained volunteers (each of whom goes through a 50-hour training) to offer peer emotional support to persons with AIDS, persons with ARC, their significant others and the bereaved. The Shanti Foundation has an explicit policy for its staff and volunteers prohibiting them from assisting anyone in the commission of suicide. The foundation does not condone or cooperate in the act of suicide, and staff and volunteers are instructed as to commonly accepted, appropriate courses or action to take if confronted by a suicidal situation.
Our position may be summarized from the policy as follows: "Shanti wishes to avoid implication that its volunteers aided, advised or encouraged another person to commit suicide. . . ."
PAUL D. ZAK