May 30, 2024

A Southern Gothic lesson in bioethics

“Mercy killing” in Tennessee
James D. HamiltonThis story about a
“mercy killing” is straight from the Southern Gothic playbook used by novelists
like Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner. In the Tennessee town of Dickson,
50-year-old James D. Hamilton often stayed overnight in the Lynn household. The
son, 35-year-old Doug, was a paraplegic. Apparently he had asked several people
in the Nashville area to put him out of his misery. They refused. This week, he
asked Mr Hamilton to kill him in exchange for prescription drugs. Mr Hamilton was
more obliging and began hitting him on the head with a hammer. Doug’s mother,
62-year-old Faye, came to see what was going on and Mr Hamilton panicked. He
seized a .40 calibre pistol and shot Mrs Lynn in the back and in the chest. For
some reason he failed to complete his original assignment and sped off in his
car. He has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.

As a suicide
assistant, Mr Hamilton’s methods lacked elegance, but they do serve as a
cautionary lesson about the complex background to what the local TV station
described as a “mercy killing” and “assisted suicide”. ~ WSMV, Mar 18; Dickson
Herald, Mar 18

Michael Cook
assisted suicide
human drama
mercy killing