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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Once again, e-mails are flying at record speed with "information" about the Democratic or Republican candidates. I am not talking about the funny ones that are meant in good humor, but serious, derogatory accusations.

Can you please explain to me why friends would just assume that I want to read their forwarded messages? Not once has any of them asked who I'm voting for. They have never even asked which party I belong to.

I believe that politics and religion are personal choices, and I'm extremely offended when I receive these e-mails. I have ignored them in the past, but with the upcoming election, I'm asking what would be an appropriate response to these unwanted e-mails. Isn't freedom of choice -- without having people ram their opinion down your throat -- what has made America great? Thanks for any light on this subject. -- HENDERSON, NEV., VOTER

DEAR VOTER: The individuals who send those offensive e-mails may be hoping to sway your vote with misinformation. Or they may have you on a mass e-mail list included as a "friend" or "family member."

Feeling as you do, you have two choices. Tell the sender that you feel the messages are inappropriate and ask to be removed from that person's list, or simply delete the message without opening it.

DEAR ABBY: My sister, "Carole," has been saying for five years that she's going to kill herself when she's 65. She lives alone, her children are grown and she has a limited income. She told me she wants to go while she is in possession of her faculties. She doesn't want to get sick and die in a nursing home.

Of course I have tried to talk her out of it, but as the years have progressed, I realize that Carole is serious. She has been tying up loose ends and fixing up her house so that her daughter will inherit something nice.

Carole refuses counseling and actually seems happier since making her decision. Sometimes, after one of our deep discussions, she almost has me convinced that I'm a fool for not wanting to follow her path.

This is her last year, and I'm feeling increasingly anxious. I wonder if there isn't an avenue I haven't yet explored. Carole is pretty, healthy, walks with a jaunt in her step and holds a good job. I have talked to a suicide-prevention counselor who said some people can't be stopped and that it's no crime to THINK about suicide. Any ideas? -- SISTER WITH A HEAVY HEART

DEAR SISTER: Has anyone pointed out to Carole that 65 is the new 45? I can understand the concept of rational suicide if someone is terminally ill and in constant pain, but to go in the full flower of life strikes me as premature.

You say your sister has spoken to you about this for the past several years. How do her children feel about it? Surely, this can't have their blessing.

I can't "save" Carole and neither can you -- but it occurs to me that the reason she really wants to go is because she has nothing that keeps her invested in living. Even if she doesn't value her own life, she needs to know that others do.

P.S. People can be committed for observation if they are considered a danger to themselves or others -- and your sister may qualify.

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