CONTINUED Since the law was enacted in 1998, at least 133 terminally ill people have used it to end their lives. A report released last week found that 42 terminally ill patients killed themselves last year under Oregon's assisted-suicide law, a 10 percent increase from 2002. With an average of 31,000 Oregon deaths each year, that's not a lot of suicides. And Hawai'i, with 9,170 deaths in 2003, would likely have far fewer. As it is, a subtle form of assisted suicide is already practiced in hospitals when doctors and nurses halt life-sustaining treatments to let a terminally ill patient die. Moreover, as part of palliative care, narcotics administered to relieve pain can occasionally result in sufficient respiratory depression to kill a patient. But for many terminally ill patients, that happens too late in the game. They want the ability to end their lives before they lose control of body and mind. It's not about martyrdom, but about dignity. For that and other reasons, a death-with-dignity law is worth pursuing. In the meantime, we must improve palliative care and pain management so that the demand for physician-assisted suicide will be low. Ultimately, the question of what kind of life is worth living can only be answered by the person living that life.