Forum, Sept. 9: Actions you can take to help someone who may need it

Published: 9/8/2020 10:00:10 PM
Modified: 9/8/2020 10:00:02 PM
Actions you can take to help someone who may need it

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. At West Central Behavioral Health, it’s also National Suicide Awareness Month. We’d like to make people aware that suicide is preventable by taking the following actions recommended by Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you are concerned that someone is considering suicide:

■ Ask. Research shows acknowledging and talking about suicide with people who are considering it actually helps reduce the threat of suicide and suicidal ideation. Ask how they feel, if they are considering self-harm or suicide.

■ Be there. People are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, and more hopeful when they know someone is there to listen without passing judgment.

■ Keep them safe. Studies have shown that when access to lethal means are removed, suicide rates by that method, and overall, decline.

■ Help them stay connected. Helping someone at risk to develop a network of resources and caring people can help reduce feelings of hopelessness.

■ Follow up. Brief, low-cost and ongoing, supportive intervention is an important part of suicide prevention, especially after someone is discharged from a hospital or care service.

As a nonprofit community behavioral health center, we provide adults, children and families with access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Our vision is to eliminate the stigma surrounding these illnesses, so that everyone who needs treatment will ask for it when they need it most. To the extent you can participate in a conversation with someone who is feeling down, depressed or hopeless, you will be part of the solution this month, and every month.

The West Central Behavioral Health 24/7 emergency crisis line is available and free at 1-800-564-2578. Our clinicians are compassionate people with experience handling many types of crisis situations.

You can “#BeThe1To” take any of the above suggested actions. In so doing, you’ll be part of the solution we strive to achieve every day.





The writers are director of development and community relations and medical director, respectively, for West Central Behavioral Health, which has offices in Claremont, Lebanon and Newport, N.H.

Veterans deserve a new VA hospital in Windsor

The veterans of all military branches need and deserve a new, up-to-date Veterans Affairs hospital here in the state of Vermont. The new hospital, hopefully, would be built in Windsor and could be located on 1,700 acres of tranquil land — a perfect place for a mental health facility and a nursing home.

The current 1937 VA hospital in White River Junction could be converted to a home for all our homeless veterans.

Just maybe I may write to Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres and these two wonderful women may just send money for a “jump-start” of financial support. Would a casino night help raise funds for our new VA? I would like to be chairman of that famous game of spin the bottle.



Like magic, he brought out the best in people

Despite the sadness of reading James Murray Washburn’s obituary (Sept. 1), I still felt uplifted by the end of the reading. That was that magic that was Murray.

In his presence, people felt generally happier. They felt better. But it wasn’t magic at all. Murray had a discerning sense of quality in people, in organizations and how they were run. He was easy to admire, and he regularly acknowledged the good works he experienced while not giving time to the imperfections. In my clinic, aides or reception staff who served him well received as many compliments as a clinician might. It was always out of a genuine sense of a job well done, not simply a matter of spreading good cheer.

I remember our discussions about hiring and managing staff. He enjoyed giving people an opportunity as well as supporting them to grow and improve personally. He described using quarterly reviews in helping them determine their goals to grow by, and providing regular support, but honest feedback.

He was highly successful in his businesses that I knew of, the restaurateur of Peter Christian’s Tavern and Café Buon Gustaio, and co-founder of Red River Computer Co. It takes a level of competence for repeated success, and a work ethic. But here’s the magic again; I think Murray created an environment that brought out the best in people.

He genuinely admired the good qualities he saw in people and acknowledged them. I know many people have known Murray and his dear wife, Karen, better and longer than me, but I have greatly admired him and am grateful to have called him a friend. Whether it was his staff, friends or the community in general, the Upper Valley has been a better place because of Murray Washburn. A life well lived.



We are all vulnerable in this uneven economy

I am an earnest, old, white, middle-class supporter of “Black Lives Matter.” But I have a quibble: All human hues matter.

White people, too, are vulnerable to the ravages of our economy, maybe not so much as are Black people — but plenty, especially in this time of pandemic. So it is with brown people. Indeed, to one degree or another, everyone suffers from everything — the costs of medical care, higher education, housing, food, transportation.

In sum, we all share vulnerability to our nation’s insanely uneven distribution of wealth. And to anomie, a pervasive absence of community.

But it is we, the ordinary people of whatever shade, who stand to gain the potential of our national DNA. If we play it right. Perhaps we need a broader slogan: “Life matters. Let’s get out and vote down the deadheads!”



A cost-benefit analysis of Roe v. Wade

Let me say at the outset that all my adult life I have believed that decisions surrounding termination of a pregnancy should be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor. But, for purely pragmatic reasons, I am beginning to rethink my opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade.

For many Americans, the overturning of Roe, which declares unduly restrictive regulation on abortion unconstitutional, is the sole issue on which they choose one presidential candidate over another. In brief, they vote for the candidate they believe will lead the fight to overturn Roe, and who will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who are committed to that outcome.

But appointments to the Supreme Court actually make little difference in the abortion rights of most ordinary women, since most abortion-related legislation is made at the state level, and states have been very effective in limiting access.

For a variety of reasons, abortion rates have fallen steadily since the 1980s, under both abortion-rights and anti-abortion presidents. Planned Parenthood funding, for example, has risen to its highest level during the current presidency, and the rate of unwanted pregnancy among teens has steadily declined.

For anti-abortion voters, however, the overturning of Roe overshadows every other political and social issue: the environment, immigration, good governance, income and resource inequality, health care and emergency preparedness. What would happen if Roe were simply taken off the political table? Would a balance of vital issues reassert itself in the minds of voters, and would better decision-making result?

When you do a cost-benefit analysis of the value of Roe, in terms of overall loss of life and human suffering, you might decide that overturning Roe is the right thing to do. More lives, on balance, would be spared: the lives of people who suffer and die from climate collapse, from the lack of adequate health care, from gun violence and police brutality. With Roe a non-issue, people who are “pro-life” could be freed to be actively “pro-life” in its totality, and not solely for human fetuses.



COVID-19 kills. A mask is a small inconvenience

Retirement from teaching has allowed me to live my dream of being a farmer. I love Vermont, I love all my neighbors, the lifestyle, the live-and-let-live attitude, the safety. I love that I can talk to my neighbors who might have very different views than I do, but bottom line, we will help each other if needed. I’ve been back to Vermont for a few years now, and then COVID-19 hit. I’m not totally surprised because I knew that with climate change and our lack of regard for the planet something serious was bound to happen.

My brother lives in New York City and he watched as a 9-year-old boy was taken out of his building with COVID-19. The boy died. His mother had taken him to a birthday party in Central Park. What a tough thing to live with.

Recently, a teacher I worked with in Virginia got COVID-19. She said she felt like her head was in a vise. She couldn’t breathe. She is in her mid-40s. Her 14-year-old son gave it to her.

My son-in-law is in the Army. His supervisor is 52 and a marathon runner. After contracting COVID-19, he can’t walk across the kitchen. This virus is too new to know how long the effects will last. Maybe permanently. The positive thing of these tragedies is that, as a consequence, my daughter and son-in-law are very careful. They always wear masks. Even my 4-year-old granddaughter puts her mask on without any resistance.

This disease kills. Not everyone, but it kills. I’m confused about the resistance to wearing masks. I get it that no one really likes to wear masks. However, it is a pretty minimal inconvenience compared with getting COVID-19. Even if we don’t have a severe case, or maybe are asymptomatic, imagine giving it to your mother, your grandfather, your elderly neighbor or your child.

What does public health have to do with civil rights? Can someone explain it to me so I can understand?



Culling the ‘herd’

President Donald Trump is now embracing Dr. Scott Atlas’ “herd immunity” concept. Sounds like “survival of the fittest” to me.



Biden and moderates destroyed America

Bidenism brought us Trumpism. The profound difference between the rich and the poor was enlivened by former Vice President Joe Biden’s policies of 40 years and his friends. While they lived large with federal retirement benefits, parties, great medical care and great salaries, Biden and the compromising so-called moderates destroyed the fabric of America.

Now, you expect us “bad Progressives” with “radical ideas” that other social democratic societies have adopted and humanized to trust and support you. What Biden did was destroy my lived values and those of the Kennedys and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Citizens United and the perverse notion that corporations are citizens must be immediately reversed. The Democrats must become as ruthless for a living democracy as the Trumpian Republicans are for an autocratic, destructive, fear- and lie-mongering white supremacy vision. Biden brought us to Trump by mamby-pambying his way along. California is on fire, the middle of the U.S. poisoned its watershed with industrial agriculture, mega-companies have just been fed billions by the Treasury and flooded communities still expect us to pay for their poor building standards.

Has Joe Biden gained some substance?



Trump’s performance a shameful moment

Folks watching the Republican National Convention saw a good deal of red — some displayed by the clothing speakers wore, some displayed as ornamentation and lighting for the event. And a good deal of red was seen by those watching because the “people’s house” was used for partisan political power-grabbing by a fellow who wants badly to be America’s dictator.

It was performance narcissism and nepotism wrapped up in nationalism, an idolatry of power over principle.

President Donald Trump inappropriately used the convention to perform an official presidential function. Did Trump pay for the White House, or did the Republicans? No. The building, improvements and maintenance of that singular structure were all paid for by me and you, and by Democrats and Republicans and independents, rich and poor, black and white, old and young, male and female, gay and straight, liberal and conservative, atheists and Christians, and all of us in between, past and present, all of us taxpayers.

Any convention is a partisan event and not the place to use presidential powers to pardon someone or preside over a naturalization ceremony. The White House is neither red nor blue nor purple. It is a national symbol, representing all facets of America, and does not belong to political candidate Trump. And, as a recent letter to the editor in The New York Times noted, it was “inappropriate, shameful and unprecedented for Mike Pompeo, in his role as secretary of state doing official U.S. business, to deliver a partisan speech from Israel” about Trump’s alleged foreign policy successes.

Also on display was Trump’s pestiferous way of reading from his teleprompter these days — in a whining, sing-song chant, completely lacking passion, conviction and integrity. He can’t use those tools because he does not have them.

Regardless of your political preferences or whether you thought the convention was well-produced or not, this was and will remain a shameful moment for America — one that historians will rebuke for years. Great and admired Republican and Democratic presidents are rolling over in their graves.


North Haverhill

Trump’s comments demand his resignation

OK, this is the last straw and it has broken my back. I have lost a lot of sleep after reading and hearing the comments that President Donald Trump reportedly made about our “loser” and “sucker” military veterans, as well as the current members of our military. I proudly served in the U.S. Army from 1964 to 1968, having chosen the Army Security Agency to do my duty. Because of the draft, many young men did not have a choice in how they would serve our country. I can say that the fine men and women I served with were not and are not the “losers” that the “commander in chief” seems to think we are. What did “The Donald” do when he was called to serve? Oh, I remember, bone spurs, right!

It is beyond the pale that anyone, be they military or not, could think that this person sitting in the White House should be called our commander in chief. It is more than insulting. How dare this coward say these things about the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for this country? I have had it and I hope you have, too. Now is the time for the Republican Party to stand up, show some backbone, and force Trump to resign and get this country back on a path of healing and cooperation.

Our entire military command should stand together and demand his removal. How could anyone honestly follow orders from someone like him? I certainly could not. I call on my fellow Americans to add your voices to this demand for his resignation. Make America proud again. Make America proud again to be a leader among nations.

I have fear about the damage he can do between now and Jan. 20.

Sleep well America.



Vera Rivard: The choice for Athlete of the Year

A respite from political contributions to this page: The one-man sports staff of the Valley News needn’t wait until year-end to pick 2020’s Upper Valley Athlete of the Year (and New Hampshire’s).

It can only be Vera Rivard — conqueror of the English Channel and circumnavigation of Manhattan Island, Upper Valley Aquatic Club product and Kearsarge High student-athlete from Springfield, N.H.

In a walk. Or an Australian crawl. No contest.




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