All of us should give -- and get -- help when needed

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Am I my brother's keeper?" While Cain and God both knew the answer -- Cain had already killed his brother Abel -- not all of us have answered the question for ourselves.

As economic conditions deteriorate, more and more of us are needing help from our friends and neighbors -- and more and more of us are being called upon to provide that help.

We don't know all of the details of the tragic deaths of a California family of seven, but it appears to be a murder-suicide involving a man worried about his job at a medical center. Tuesday afternoon, authorities said the dead include the man, his wife, an 8-year-old girl, two 5-year-old twin girls and two 2-year-old twin boys. Emergency crews, responding to what apparently were suicide notes faxed to authorities and a television station, arrived apparently only minutes after the fatal shootings occurred.

In a completely different situation, a 93-year-old World War II veteran in Michigan apparently died of hypothermia after the city limited his electricity for unpaid utility bills.

After a shutoff notice was placed on his door, the body of Marvin Schur was found several days later in the home where he had lived for years. A utility bill with cash attached was found in his home, indicating he intended to pay off at least part of the $1,000 he owed.

City officials are scrambling to make sure nothing like that happens again.

As we read about thousands of jobs disappearing each week, we can be sure variations of the two tragedies recounted above will be repeated all too often.

Certainly the elderly man would have been saved, had someone known the heat in his home was completely shut off. Not all of the details are known in the death of the California family, but intervention of some type at the right time could surely have made a difference.

Whatever the situation, it behooves all of us to keep tabs on our friends and neighbors to make sure they're coping with the challenges life throws at them.

Even more important is the need for those of us who encounter tough times, whatever the cause, to not hesitate to seek help when we need it.

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