Carla Silverman

Health care still debated seven years

October 13, 2000
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesSanta Paula made national news seven years ago when on Oct. 5, 1993, an animal activist riddled with cancer committed suicide. This sad event took a hard turn toward the sensational when it was discovered that Carla Silverman had swallowed the pills amongst a gathering of friends and her husband. The circumstances of Carla's suicide led to an investigation of her husband for felony assisted suicide until the District Attorney declined to file charges.The death of 51-year-old Carla fueled the national debate over assisted suicide, especially when it was learned that the day she ended her life she filmed a video to be sent to President and Mrs. Clinton. Carla took them to task for not answering an earlier letter about the state of health care; she started the video by noting “I sent with the letter a sweatshirt, with a picture of Socks, your kitty. And I felt that my letter had a very important message, and the sweatshirt was wonderful, and I haven't had a response from anybody that the package ever arrived, that you've even seen my letter, or that you've ever seen the sweatshirt. . .”Then Carla read the letter she had sent the previous March, and concluded the video by noting “Today is my ‘Life Day’. It is the day I have chosen as the last day of my life. . .” before signing off forever.Amending the Constitution to make health care an “inalienable right” was still on Carla's mind her last day and is still on the mind of Ed Silverman, now a part-time Santa Paula resident.Among the turmoil of the investigation into the suicide and the media blitz, Ed had second thoughts about the tape, never sending it to the White House.Carla's cancer had struck aggressively about a year before her death, said Ed, a retired dentist whose office housed a showcase of antique dental equipment.Married to Carla for “eighteen and one-half years,” they had lived in Santa Paula for 13 years before her death, establishing Kitty Res-Q, the “purpose statement” of which she also sent the President. Kitty Res-Q placed over 125 cats and kittens in good homes over a decade and the Silverman's home often contained dozens of felines.
Ed said Carla's death was a “major breakthrough in my understanding of life and lifestyle. . .a more spiritual component of life.”Ed met Nels about six weeks after Carla died and they soon formed a bond, being constant companions now for more than six years. They split their time between Santa Paula and Holland and Ed is writing a book.“It started out as grief recovery, evolved into being self-help which evolved into becoming more of a spiritual meaning of life,” tome that he's been actively seeking a publisher or agent for.He said he still has contact with the dozen or so people that visited Carla that last day and noted that the issue of assisted suicide is still a headline subject.Quality health care has been a hot issue for years, the dominance of HMOs increasingly controversial and Ed believes politicians are “slowly getting it, it's being debated, but Carla wanted to speed it up.”Carla also wanted to speed up her death: “She was alert mentally to the last second and did it the way she wanted to,” said Ed. “She felt if she waited even a few more days she wouldn't have the strength to do it.”

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