Letters to the Editor

Suicide silence

February 7, 2007


To the editor:

Read the obituaries? It's now fashionable not to list the cause of death. This effectively silences all lessons to be learned in an effort to spare any embarrassment to the survivors should something negative like suicide be involved. And don't think suicide isn't happening, and often. And, for every poor soul that "succeeds" in taking their life, there are multiple that "fail." And the silence continues.

Two years since we started our CHIP task force; it's so quiet, I fear the pilot light that keeps the heat on the subject of Lawrence Memorial Hospital has blown out. Quiet, in spite of the sounds of the $50 million new construction project.

With the exception of the "crisis unit," carved out of closet space, which I hailed as better than nothing, LMH has stayed on track and offered our community precious little in the realm of mental health. Body or mind will be served, but not both.

LMH is getting better for those who retain the ability to choose help. Not so for all others. We are now one step closer to having a "designer" hospital, instead of a community hospital.

Think our troops returning from multiple tours of duty won't need help adjusting back into our community? Not a problem. We'll just quietly ship them off again to somewhere else.

Alan P. Miller,

Baldwin City


geekin_topekan 11 years, 2 months ago

First of all what is CHIP?This vital little tidbit is not offered.If it's a, don't know?/Nunyas issue than why the letter? My sentiments concerning suicide not being published to save the survivors is similar to Mr.Millers but entirely different.I am sure there is a lesson to be learned from another's pain.I can't imagine what would drive someone to this very point of taking their own life,I wouldn't wish that on anyone.The pain that is. However,the unsuccessful suicides are rare but they do happen.I know one guy in particular who put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.Blew half his face off but he survived and lives today.He has choosen a new direction and calls himself a better person for it. My beef is with the "attempted suicide".Which are the ones where the paramediacs get there "just in time" and boohoo they tell everyone about their revelation in teary eyes and gratitude toward God and blahblahblah. These "attempts" are the ones that need to be published.Open public viewing and humiliation for these self pitying losers is actually too good.Let them suffer enough until they are willing to seek e new way of life.Otherwise,spare everyone that cares about you their time,energy and stress. If you truly want to die you will find a way.I have seen this first hand.It isnt something to "Attempt",and to make a mockery of is perverted if not criminal. You belittle those who answer your pathetic call for help by buying your crap.SH** or get off the pot!!Seek a new way of life or die.Either way,the decision is your's and your's alone.Not to be broadcast for your personal crisis team to come running.Because,believe it or not,the day will come when they won't come running because they will wise up and see how you've used and belittled them, and their compassion. These cases should be published.Maybe they will find the way.If not,they will either die or continue to waste precious time and suck in anyone who cares to listen.If they could make a buck or two off of their phoney cries for help I'd be willing to bet that they would just a shamelessly and quickley as their calls to 911.If that were the case,phoney suicide "attempts" would be the world's other oldest profession.

trinity 11 years, 2 months ago

your post touched me, geekin. thank you for it&know that i'm thinking good thoughts for you! :)

porkchop 11 years, 2 months ago

Wow, geekin. You're a disgusting excuse for a human being.

BrianR 11 years, 2 months ago

G.T, You could've saved yourself a lot of time and just said outright that you have no knowledge whatsoever of the issue.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 2 months ago

It's not common for the cause of death to be listed for anyone. Occasionally you will see an obit that says they died from cancer or something, or you assume what they died from because the family "requests contributions" to such and such charity.

If this were the trend, what would we be seeing? "He died of a heart attack while having sex with his wife"; "he was straining on the toilet when the aneurysm burst"; or "he drove out into oncoming traffic without looking, and was creamed by a semi"?

Besides, usually when it's a suicide there's an additional article elsewhere in the paper about it.

onehotmomma 11 years, 2 months ago

When my 10 year old daughters obit was printed in the Topeka paper in 1997 it stated: "An autopsy is being performed to determine cause of death". Dealing with the death of a child, no matter what age, is bad enough, but to have her obit read like she was abused or neglected is horrific.

If you do not receive a phone call from a family member informing you of the person's death, then you have no need to know any details of their death.

purplesage 11 years, 2 months ago

What does the lack of mental health care have to do with obituary etiquette? It may have something to do with HIPPA and other over the top government privacy standards. Nobody should have to reveal private details in the newspaper if they don't want to. Tragically, there are many hurting people who need help and don't ask for it or get asked if they need it.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 2 months ago

Since I work in the field, I can tell you that HIPPA no longer applies after the person has died.

However, most places will still ask the family first, and not release any information if that is what the family wants.

I still don't see what the big deal is. Most people don't have a cause of death listed in their obituaries. Why should suicide be any different?

In fact, they haven't really published a cause of death since sometime in the 20s. Back then, when they didn't really know but guessed a lot, you could find a lot of weird obits in the papers.

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