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WHILE I FOUND SUICIDE IN Washington a topic which definitely warranted press response (“The Politics of Suicide,” 11/5), I must admit I found the tone, when referring to the personalities profiled, condescending and prone to delusions of comprehension.
While no one debates that individuals who are involved in government may be characterized as opportunistic in life, to say that “the first opportunist is often the suicide himself, who knows that his desperate deed will spin a sympathetic obituary” is crass! It also infers pretensions of understanding the mind of the suicide victim at the time of his or her choice to die.
This I doubt seriously from someone who characterizes James V. Forrestal and Vincent Foster as “mentally imbalanced.” I would venture to say that part of the problem of reporting about this topic is reflected in the lack of understanding on the part of most people that the person may suffer from mental illness—and that may mean a gamut of serious diagnoses from manic depression to schizophrenia, etc.—quite a leap from the antiseptic term “mentally imbalanced.” Unfortunately, the author’s phrasing lends credence to the notion that persons who commit suicide are weak and unable to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps. It negates the reality of the disease.
When in the throes of deciding whether or not to kill yourself, considering positive press as a motivating factor in Washington belies the evidence. The author implies that it is a method of dispensation. I would offer the opposite. In this town, the press consistently refers to the deceased with the qualifier “who committed suicide” forever after. Often, the act of suicide defines the person forever, instead of the person’s life being the focus of attention.
I suggest a better understanding of the topic in general might have led to a more informed and better article.
Shirley Monastra, Foggy Bottom