REFLECTION ON A TRAGIC DEATH

Written by admin on . Posted in Dewing Things Better, On Topic OTDT, Opinion and Column.


There is some good news. In requesting Roberta Israeloff’s piece, “Lend an Ear, Can You Listen, Really Listen,” some New Yorkers said they were guilty of not listening empathically and wanted to change. A woman in the physical healing profession said, “I’m going to make every effort to listen longer before speaking, and when I do speak, try to keep the spotlight on the other person and not turn it on myself.”

This reading, which is not just for Lent or Lent followers, is still available. However, chronic lamenters/compulsive talkers who rarely listen must be told politely, but firmly, “Listen up!”

The tragic suicide death of 17-year-old Dalton student Theodore (Teddy) Graubard also reminds us of the importance of listening, and making sure that private matters get public attention when necessary. It was reported that prior to his death, fellow students said that Graubard had “been very depressed. People were talking about him having a breakdown.”

Mental health professionals in the Feb. 20 Daily News “Dalton Death Raises Red Flag on Depression” piece warned about teen depression often going unrecognized. “Today’s many stressors, a broken relationship or a college rejection” were among causes cited. Professional treatment was urged, and “friends and families” told to “look out for signs of hopelessness, increased anxiety, loss of enjoyment of school activities, sleeping too much or too little.”

Surely involvement and intervention must be stressed at both secular and religious schools. If we can just get across the message that a broken relationship or any rejection will surely pass, unlike the grief of their families, especially a mother and father’s.

And let’s talk about suicide—enough—including the article’s shocking statistics: “Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people 15 to 24. In 2007, 18 children between 15 and 19—all males—died by suicide in New York City…”
More than 3,000 young people commit suicide in the United States every year, and more often, as in other age suicides, they are males.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is a Dalton alumnus, and his older brother, Carter, committed suicide in 1988 at age 23. This tragedy made headlines because his mother was Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper, who frantically tried to stop her son from leaping from her apartment terrace. Reportedly, this beloved son and brother, was “extremely depressed” by a breakup with his girlfriend and was getting professional help. Ah, if only Anderson Cooper would now get behind a suicide prevention movement, lend his name, influence culture-shaping media/entertainment and arts to just get this one message across: that a romantic breakup/rejection will pass. It’s not the end of the world, not ever.

And decry and/or defuse those “can’t-live-without-you” romantic love lyrics and drama themes, which are likely more toxic than even the violent and sex-riddled kind highlighted in 1982 by then-Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop. His headlined message to the American Academy of Pediatricians warned about the sharp increase since 1960 of homicides, accidents and suicides among America’s 15- to 24-year-olds. “Suicides among white males, always disproportionately high, have tripled in this age group.” Tragically, it didn’t get “the intensive study” he so urgently called for. It’s even more urgent and timely in 2009. Contact dewingbetter@aol.com for a copy of the New York Times featured report, and/or the “Listen and Hear” empathy essay. Attention has just got to be paid!

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