Daniel James bought a one-way ticket to Switzerland, where he made the decision to not live past his 24th year.
A little more than a year after a rugby accident that dislocated his spine, leaving him paralyzed, James decided to take his life. Not even the coaxing of a fellow rugby paraplegic could change his mind. With the full support of his parents, a physician, and the Swiss government, he was admitted to a clinic on September 12, where it is believed he became the youngest person from the UK to have committed physician-assisted suicide in Switzerland.
He didn't enter the sport unknowingly. Rugby is considered one of the most dangerous sports today. According to the Telegraph, such accidents happen to three or four players each season. It's what they call a "catastrophic injury," which is damage to the brain or spinal cord. And yet many survivors choose to live with it. Players like Roger Addison.
Addison was another promising new face in the rugby world. But in 1966, the then 21-year-old Pontypool player was also paralyzed from a scrum. Forty-two years later, he battles on through life surrounded by a supportive family and hospital staff. An official at his old rugby club, Arthur Crane,told the Times Online, "Roger has this huge belief that he is here for a purpose. He has been an inspiration." (Read more here.)
Matt Hampson is another rugby paraplegic survivor who actually met with James shortly before his death. His story about meeting and trying to convince James to keep his life is riveting. (Occasional profanity.) He is paralyzed from the neck down and requires a ventilator to breathe, while James was paralyzed from the chest down, but could still push himself around.
But Hampson refuses to judge James's decision. Instead, he shared his story of living. He spoke of his first few weeks as the hardest:
Those first nights and weeks and months in hospital are as close as it gets to hell, as you struggle to come to terms with the cruelty of the hand you've been dealt. But soon there's a choice to be made; the same choice that Andy faced in Shawshank: "You get busy living or get busy dying." Me? I choose to live.