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Failed suicide attempt merited treatment, not arrest and time in jail

Monday, October 22, 2012
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Failed suicide attempt merited treatment, not arrest and time in jail

Re the Oct. 3 letter [“Attempts to exploit teen suicides are revolting”] on the rash of teen suicides several years ago in Schenectady: The outpouring of compassion throughout the community for the families of those victims, and the efforts made on behalf of the families, and other kind gestures, were heartwarming.

However, just last month Schenectady County experienced another teen attempt to commit suicide [Sept. 10 Gazette]. Thankfully, he was not successful. However, the reaction of the community, and the compassion that was afforded the survivors several years ago, was not extended to this teen, or to his family, by the vast majority of the community.

In this most recent case, rather than being taken to a hospital (as the teen and his family were promised by the police) for an immediate mental health evaluation, the teen was arrested by Niskayuna Police and sent to jail. It took approximately one week before the teen was taken to a hospital.

The Gazette sent a photographer to take a picture of him in orange jail clothes instead, perhaps, of writing about the sensitivity and understanding that is needed for a child so depressed that he would want to taking his own life.

Do funerals or a child arrested make for better news then trying to save a child? Our community should be seeking to send a message of support not only to the families of suicide victims but also to the children who attempt suicide but thankfully are not successful. Instead, our community sends the message that suicide results in sympathy and compassion, while attempted suicide will get you sent to jail.

While sitting in jail on a suicide watch, and isolated from parents and family, the child risks falling into a deeper depression in the days and weeks waiting for therapeutic treatment and court decisions.

The mental health issues of children who attempt suicide need to be treated by mental health professionals, not by the criminal justice system.

Judi Weatherhead

Malta

Cartoon showing Ryan as an infant was insulting

For the past couple of weeks, the political cartoons in the Gazette have mimicked the Obama campaign’s personal attacks on Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan.

While those of us who are conservative or middle of the road have become accustomed to the endless parade of E.J. Dionne and Froma Harrop columns that carry water for the president’s campaign, the political cartoon in the Oct. 17 Gazette [depicting Paul Ryan in a highchair] reached a new low.

The majority of Americans who watched the vice presidential debate witnessed Vice President Biden’s boorish buffoonery, yet here you are depicting Joe Biden as the adult in the room and Paul Ryan as the child.

If that’s the Gazette’s opinion, I guess you watched a different debate than the rest of us.

John D. Hanshaw

Clifton Park

Strock’s targets may not miss him, others will

Carl Strock will be greatly missed by his many readers, including me.

And I will miss readers’ responses to his column, particularly the ranting, vituperative letters from outraged miscreants responding to some perceived insult by Carl.

During the years of his column, he managed to upset many government, religious and political groups and had fun doing it. I assume he had fun writing the column and reading the responses; I know I thoroughly enjoyed both.

Andy Foster

Niskayuna

Now let’s see legislators cut Sch’dy county budget

Re Oct. 18 article, “Big tax levy hike stalls budget deal”: The Chamber of Schenectady County, representing more than 1,000 businesses, applauds the county Legislature’s decision to postpone a vote on the 2013 budget.

We’re delighted that legislators are considering the concerns of the many residents and businesses who have sent numerous e-mails and spoken at several public meetings.

This Legislature has successfully kept Schenectady County tax increases under control for the last few years and must continue that progress if we are to change the disturbing trends we’ve seen in increasing poverty rates and taxpayer migration from Schenectady County.

We understand that the Legislature faces a difficult task, but encourage its members to make the tough decisions necessary to reduce expenses so the approved budget stays within the 2 percent tax cap supported by Gov. Cuomo.

Charles P. Steiner

Schenectady

The writer is Chamber president and CEO.

 
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October 22, 2012
9:56 a.m.
bostonredsoxfan says...

The police and the media are not at fault in the case Ms. Weatherhead cites. The incident in Niskayuna might not have happened if the parents of the young man had taken his prior behavior seriously, rather than making excuses and accusing others of persecuting him. Instead, they allowed drinking, theft, vandalism, and harassment of adult neighbors and other youth. The young man in question is deeply troubled, and is absolutely in need of mental health care. However, those responsible for him, who had the means to do so (his step-father is an attorney with experience in juvenile justice issues), should have made sure that he was given this care sooner.

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