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Letter: A Story That Needs to Be Told

To the Editor:

My thanks, too, to the Valley News for publishing the story of Ashley DeMond’s suicide on the front page. As a person with depression who has contemplated suicide many times since age 8, it was great to see the issue revealed in full daylight.

I was very distressed, however, to see the resulting letter from Steven Librot. His suggestion that you push such a story to the darker inner pages is absurd. I actually felt as though I was reading something written by the American Medical Association in the 1960s, not something written by a mental health counselor in 2013.

Many things about his letter were off-base, but the most telling was his acknowledgement that he “cannot fully sense the pain that a parent and family (of a suicide victim) must feel” without anywhere acknowledging the tremendous pain that Ashley must have felt and from which she sought escape.

Nowhere did he mention the word “stigma” (as in relegating articles about the realities of depression to a less prominent place) or even “illness” (as in depression being a mental illness). Instead he used the word “troubled.” Troubled by cancer lately?

His notion that keeping someone from achieving “fame” in death is a reason to sweep the many-faceted narrative of an illness under the carpet ignores the good that can come from shining a light on an issue.

His suggestion that the Valley News serve penitence by prominently publishing “healthy alternatives” to teen suicide is just plain strange. Fighting depression as vigorously, as openly and with as many resources as we apply to other illnesses is the best “healthy” alternative I can think of.

That’s on all of us.

Librot could accomplish something meaningful by asking many in the media to stop referring to people with mental illness as “crazy,” “evil” or “wack jobs.” That would be far more helpful than tongue-lashing the Valley News for reporting actual news.

Finally, if Librot would like to de-romanticize death in any of its manifestations, then he should call for the outright banning of guardian (or any other) angels. Works for me.

Cindy Blakeslee

Bradford, Vt.

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