Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"I wouldn't want to live!"

When I was working for a rural newspaper, I did some research on farm safety for a special supplement. I found this true story:

A farmer, let's call him Terry, was harrowing a field. He had two of his children -- a 7-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy -- in the cab of the tractor with him. Somehow the 3-year-old managed to unlock and unlatch the door. He fell out.

Terry stopped as fast as he could and got out to check on his son. He found the child in pieces, run over by the harrow. The stunned man sent the girl back to the house to tell her mother what had happened, while he tried to pick up the pieces of his dead son.

Terry's friend, let's call him Jeb, was visiting at the time. When the girl came with the news, Terri's wife ran out to the field. Jeb realized that Terry wouldn't want to live, having killed his child. Jeb went to the gun cabinet, got all the guns, took them out and locked them in the trunk of his car.

Terry came staggering back to the house, looking for a gun to shoot himself.

Was Jeb a hero for saving Terry's live? Or was Jeb an interfering busybody who had not right to interfere with Terry's right to choose not to live with such unbearable suffering?

When you want to die, does a true friend help you kill yourself? Or does a true friend help you find a reason to go on?

Would a friend give you food and water, or starve you to death in your hospice?

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