Newlywed & father-to-be: Paralyzed in fall on Saturday; kills himself on Sunday

OK, a bit of a dramatic headline, but:

This past Saturday afternoon, Tim Bowers, a newlywed (married in August; wife is expecting) was hunting from a tree when he fell approx. 16 feet. The fall left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. He’d be dependent on a ventilator to breathe, but no brain damage.

According to the story, his family asked doctors on Sunday to wake him up and ask him how he felt about being paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that given almost no time to fully digest the situation and figure out what his options are, no other consultations with other doctors to figure out what the medical alternatives are, family there telling him if he wants to live the rest of his life tied to a machine to breathe, he ‘decides to have his breathing tube removed’ that very afternoon, and he dies Sunday night.

No brain damage, apparently can still talk at least for a bit, baby on the way, still relatively young, and we have no idea what medical advances might be around the corner…

It’s obviously a very tragic situation, and yeah, there might not be many happy outcomes, but come on - ONE DAY after the accident? Giving the guy barely a few hours to come to grips with what’s happening?

Am I the only one absolutely disgusted at the family? Am I the only one shocked and appalled that the *doctors *didn’t step in and advise at least a few days pass before guilt-tripping the guy into offing himself?

As a family person I probably would have argued to wait at least a couple days to make sure he was positive that’s what he wanted.

As a person in his position I would probably be so sure of what I wanted that I’d be annoyed at people trying to stop me and keep me in pain “just to be sure”. As the article states, his opinion of what he wanted was the same when he was able-bodied.

As long as he was totally lucid (can you even prove that though?) I don’t really have a problem with how fast he made his choice, considering the severity of his new disability.

It was his choice to make. Nobody else should force someone to live like that. If he wanted to do it quick, if he was so horrified at living one more day paralyzed, then he should have to right to end his life. I’m happy that the doctors did not try to emotionally blackmail him into staying on longer. The longer he waits on this choice, I believe, the more chance that someone will find someway to stop him from killing himself. Better to do it quick when you have the opportunity

It’s not that I can’t imagine having a horrible disability, not wanting to be a burden on anyone, and deciding to kill myself. I can imagine that.

What I can’t imagine is any lucid individual, recently married man with a baby on the way not being determined enough to stick around long enough to at least see his new baby boy or girl. I can not understand that at all. I can’t fathom that the other *family members - including the mother - *didn’t try to encourage him, ‘yes you have a long road in front of you but be strong; we love you, we’ll support you and wouldn’t you like to see your baby boy/girl’?

We’re not talking about a discussion taking place weeks or months after the accident - we’re talking THE NEXT DAY. I mean, here’s what his wife said:

Sheesh - push the guy into his grave why don’t ya’.

Yes, we should probably just put out guns on every street corner so whenever the whim hits you can off yourself.


The vast majority of suicides - like this one - are decided on impulse, overwhelmingly when the person is probably in the worst frame of mind to make such a permanent decision. Make it just a little bit harder, and guess what? Suicides plummet. In other words - take away the opportunity for it to be an impulse action, and far fewer people actually kill themselves.

‘Emotional blackmail’? Looks to me like he was emotionally blackmailed by his family to kill himself.

D’ya think it is at all possible that she might be fucking destroyed by what happened and hanging onto this narrative is what’s keeping her from slipping into her own depressive state?

It does seem a little hasty. I’m friends with a quad and while I’m sure there are many challenges for him he is married, has step-kids and step-grand kids, and seems to be living a satisfying life.

I’m with the consensus here. I think there should have been something like a thirty day waiting period.

Medical bills.
Ventilators are incredibly costly to maintain and not many nursing homes will cover them. It is not covered under normal insurance.
Sticking around for however many more months may have racked up over a million dollars in debt or more.
Postponing a lot longer may have turned his choice into some sort of legal problem concerning suicide/murder and fault as well, since he would be unable to physically unplug all on his own.

For all we know everyone else encouraged him but he made a decision with his wife in a way he thought was right.

You can sit and judge how exactly she said her words while I’ll sit here and say that she just lost her husband in an accident and the last thing she needs to worry about is properly articulating one of the biggest and most tragic events of her life to a reporter.

This. 100%.

there is no way for us to judge because there is no way for us to ever know exactly what happened and what is the family justifying to themselves in retrospect the decision he made.

a) Somehow I doubt the subject of medical bills came up. ‘This is going to cost so much, and you can’t even go out and cook crystal meth’.
b) Even if it did come up - it’s a Sunday. You don’t think a family member or doctor would at least suggest, ‘you know at the very least call your insurance company on Monday’?

This strikes me as an even stronger argument for waiting. Besides, ‘five hours after being woken up is fine, but five days is now legally murky’ strikes me as rather unlikely.

The WIFE was in an equally poor frame of mind to make any sort of decision - she just went from newlywed and soon-to-be mother to worrying about how to care for an invalid. Absolutely there were suddenly massive problems in her life…which is exactly why family members or doctors should have stepped in, and given the couple some time to get a clear idea of what to do.

There’s no way a few hours immediately after being woken up and told the diagnosis was even remotely long enough.

Macca26 said it better than I could.

I would maybe want an hour on my own to sort through things (in my head, obviously) but I don’t know that I’d be able to take all of 3 days of it just so someone else could feel better about my decision. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be the burden, and I wouldn’t want to be remembered as one. Sorry my cord got severed, but it’s severed and that’s that–time to move on.

One day is MUCH too soon. It was much too soon for the wife to be making decisions like that, too. I wonder how much guilt she’ll have down the road.

Maybe he fell out of the tree on purpose.

If his death is officially ruled a suicide, I wonder how the life insurance will pay out.

Generally life insurance only has a 2-year contestability period during which suicide is excluded. After that even if you suck the barel of a shotgun in front of witnesses all they can do is shake their little fists and write a check. So if it’s a new policy somebody’s out of luck.

Any why should your lack of imagination be a reason to torture people with medical equipment and treatment they don’t want?

Doesn’t seem that unlikely to me. In the immediate aftermath, it’s declining consent for treatment. In a few days, when utterly stable, it’s removing lifesaving treatment. Medical ethics views the two very differently, as does the law.

Isn’t that why she didn’t make the decision? Isn’t that why they woke him up, so he could make the decision?

Some people decide quickly, some need more time. There’s no reason why the time you need is the right amount of time to allocate to everyone. Everyone should be given the time they need, and the suffering not prolonged after a decision has been made.

Have you ever been on a ventilator? They SUCK. (And blow.) And they only get more painful and cause more erosion, sores, infections and other bad things as time goes on. I would do it if I could be more-or-less guaranteed it was short term and I’d be able to get off the vent in, say, less than 2 weeks. If not, just turn it off, please. I’ve seen what happens to long term vented patients, and I (like most health care professionals) want no part of it for myself. If I was in his position, I’d have asked them to wait long enough for my friends and family to come say goodbye, and then pull the vent.

But what I want and what you want are entirely irrelevant. What’s important is what he wanted, and he was clear about it, and got it, and I’m very glad for that.

If you haven’t done so, please go fill out your Advance Directives and talk to someone you trust to be your Power of Attorney for Healthcare. Make sure they know that you don’t want to be pulled off a vent, and for how long that holds true. If I happen to be your nurse, I’ll do everything I can to make you comfortable while that happens, I promise. Because, again, it’s not about what I want for me, it’s what you want for you.

When I or a family member have had surgery involving general anesthesia, we’ve typically been specifically told not to make significant decisions for 24 hours afterward, because of the possibility that the lingering effects of the anesthesia might impair one’s judgment. I wonder how the hospital satisfied itself that this person’s decision-making ability was sufficiently reliable so soon after awakening him.

He knows what he was agreeing to. He got what he wanted. Stop telling other people how to live (or die).

Advance Directives will kick in for you even if you can’t be woken up and asked what you think. The OP’s argument seems to suggest that we should never take those into account, either, as they can be tantamount to “suicide” in certain situations.

The family in this case seems to feel that they had a sincere basis for even bothering to check with him, which leads me to believe that he really did have this “fuck no, I don’t want serious medical intervention” attitude. Otherwise they would have gone ahead with the surgery, etc. right away.

From here.

I have no problem with what Tim Bowers or his family did. God forbid I ever be in that situation, but if I am, I hope my loved ones respect my choice as much as they respected his.