Desperation racked some of the Americans held hostage in Tehran to the point where they wanted to be shot by their captors, Robert Ode, the oldest American in the group, said yesterday.

"Oh, I just wish they'd shoot us now and get it over with . . . then I'll have peace," the 65-year-old foreign service officer recalled some hostages saying. Ode did not identify the hostages who had become that depressed over their captivity.

"I told them they could leave me out of it . . . and not to give them [the captors] any ideas they didn't already have," Ode said before being discharged from National Hospital for Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation in Arlington where he had been recuperating from a bout of bronchitis he developed after his release Jan. 20.

Speaking in carefully cadenced tones, Ode told of acting as priest and doctor to some of the younger and more depressed hostages. "I asked them how they knew they would have peace [if they were shot] . . . I asked, 'Have you ever talked to anyone who's died and come back?'"

Ode, who had been temporarily assigned to the American Embassy for 45 days at the time of the takeover, spoke of a 14-month captivity that ranged from cacophonous nights sleeping on concrete floors to the silence of private quarters in the former prime minister's guest quarters. He said that despite his hands being tied or bound to a chair from time to time, he was not subjected to -- or threatened with -- what he considered physical torture or depression.

"Maybe it benefitted me that I was older and more experienced . . . but I knew I just had to survive. I had too much to live for not to survive."

Ode and his wife Rita, who also was admitted to the hospital last week complaining of flu symptoms, said they will remain in the Washington area until early next week when they fly home to Arizona.