Pounding Suicide Prevention into the Public Consciousness: Life-affirming books and music aren’t just for Mother’s Day

Written by Bette Dewing on . Posted in Dewing Things Better, Opinion and Column, Opinion Our Town, Opinion West Side Spirit, Our Town, West Side Spirit.


By Bette Dewing
If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” the AP photo of Junior Seau’s anguished mother, Luisa, could save a thousand lives by drumming into the national consciousness the endless sorrow of a son or daughter’s suicide.
Such graphic examples of grief could be a deterrent to what Jimmy Breslin once said were “lives ruined all about by one mad moment in the night.” Even “under the influence,” the person just might reconsider inflicting neverending sadness on those who love them. This photo is worth infinitely more than the famous Munch painting The Scream, which just sold for $119 million.
So yet another “Dewing Better” cries out for your help to “get it out there”— in photo, word, music and, above all, “virally.” The long-range effect on Junior Seau’s three teenage children and his brother also needs to stay “out there.” So does the alcohol or other judgment-disabling drug possibility. It’s surely not only football-caused head injuries that deserve major attention.
And now our usual early May reminder:
“Don’t let Mother’s Day be one day of remembering in a year of forgetting.”And coming to the rescue is Kate Stone Lombardi’s breakthrough book The Mama’s Boy Myth, with its subtitle, “Keeping our sons close makes them stronger.” It just might overcome that family- disabling myth that “a daughter is a daughter all of her life, but a son is a son until he takes a wife.” And I have a dream where brides give this book to their grooms!
Incidentally, Lombardi finds that football players don’t worry about being a “mama’s boy,” because they “don’t have to prove their manhood.” Proving personhood is what really matters, and is surely shown by staying vitally connected to one’s family of origin (when it exists), and working out the problems that arise. Share the talk and smile a lot.
Jeanette Kossuth, counselor to preboomer generations, is giving the book to a friend with two little boys for Mother’s Day. Mothers with big boys need it big-time; a bereavement counselor tells me her older clients are reluctant to discuss the hurtful behavior of their own offspring. And that’s the problem, which could be reduced by reading this book, and also Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, about getting shy people heard in a world of nonstop talkers.
Meanwhile, music we need to hear and support is surely the New Amsterdam Boys and Girls Choir benefit concert on Saturday, May 19, at 4 p.m. at the Church of the Heavenly Rest, which is on 90th Street at Fifth Avenue.

And Irving Fields, at 90-plus, plays piano nightly at Nino’s Tuscany restaurant, I have a dream that both his and the children’s choir repertoire will include “My Mother’s Eyes.” (heard on Willie Nelson’s Over the Rainbow). And get everyone singing along!
But could that restaurant piano sound be toned down a bit? And maybe add some “specials” so pre-rock era folks who long to hear “live playing” of these inimitable standards, can hear them more often? Sadly, we’ve lost another legend of that incomparable musical era. Phoebe Jacobs, noted publicist and tireless advocate and devoted friend of countless golden-era music artists like Ella, Louis and Peggy, departed this life at age 93, said her son Jerry Fella (May 6 Times). Ah, if only I’d been able to talk with her about saving and promoting this beneficent and magnificent music and hear her speak at the March 25 NYU music conference. But now to get her legacy “out there”—and gratefully remember your mother and mine.

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