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Letters to the Editor

Thu., March 12, 2009

Suicide insinuations unfounded

In response to Kevin Graman’s article Feb. 18: As a former mental health professional in Washington, I have evaluated many individuals who were considered at risk for suicide and I was fortunate enough to never have someone kill themselves on “my watch.” I’m writing to say that even given a clinician’s best efforts, there are those individuals who will complete suicide. It can happen to any “helper.” It’s a sad fact of life, no malice or culpability by those who are offering the help. Helpers in cases like this are the likely scapegoat.

Mental illness, substance abuse and the horrors of war, while heartbreaking, contribute to that outcome. These factors increase the risk. It’s unfair to be accusing the helper in this case. The helpers on the front lines of mental health, psychiatrists, social workers and counselors all expend great amounts of professional service, time, energy and mindfulness to prevent the sometimes unpreventable.

Mr. Graman’s story takes a very sensational and cynical view of a complex and sensitive issue. What about the professional and personal reputation of the helper, Dr. Brown? Based on Mr. Graman’s slanted and innuendo article, does it really matter? Did I mention the scapegoat?

Bruce Nelson


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