Letters to the Editor

"America would never let this happen if we were talking about diabetes, hypertension, or some other chronic medical illness."

In Memory of Jenn

For those of us who knew her, Jenn Wynne was joy made manifest. From the top of her fuzzy-haired, baby-dyke head to her dancing feet, Jenn seemed to be a boundless supply of good cheer. She brightened our days at Seattle Weekly for a couple of years as our editorial assistant. Jenn was always brimming with new ideas and projects, sporting a new hair color or piercing, and caring for yet another abandoned or abused animal. A multicolored whirling dervish of activity, she seldom appeared to have a down day, much less a problem with depression. So great shock and disbelief were added to our grief when we learned that she ended her own life, at age 24, on Wednesday, April 21. Even those closest to her had no idea of the suffering inside her. Jenn has become another victim in a public health crisis that our society barely acknowledges, let alone is trying to solve (see One Suicide Too Many, Jan. 14).

Jenn is survived by her loving parents, Maryn and Chris, and her brother, Jeremy, of Shoreline. They ask that donations in her memory be sent to Youthcare's Orion Center, 2500 N.E. 54th St., Seattle, WA 98105. The center helps street kids with food, clothing, and therapy.

In addition, we, and they, urge anyone suffering from depression to please reach out and get help. Depression is an illness that can be treated, not a personal failure to be ashamed of. For help in King County, call the Crisis Clinic, 24 hours a day, at 206-461-3222.

George Howland Jr. ghowland@seattleweekly.com

Grave-Spinning JFK

"What will we do for them?" The answer isn't pretty, and it is one that those of us who work in and advocate for improvements to the mental-health system know all too well ["Give Them Shelter," May 5].

President Kennedy was the father of community mental health. He had a vision of serving those without the resources to access care elsewhere. JFK would be turning in his grave if he could see what that system has become. It is a system for the haves and has abandoned the have-nots. As Medi­caid funded more services, public systems milked that cow and states reduced or eliminated funding of services for those without Medicaid. Now the system is so reliant on Medicaid, the have-nots can't even get in the door. Public officials from Washington, D.C., to Olympia should be ashamed.

A client came to me one day with tears in his eyes and asked, "Why are we treated as if we are disposable people?" He was speaking to the rampant stigma that is largely responsible for the nonattention and nonfunding that public mental health receives. America would never let this happen if we were talking about diabetes, hypertension, or some other chronic medical illness.

May is Mental Health Month. If readers care about this tragedy in our community, get involved. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has three affiliates in the area (Greater Seattle, 206-783-9264; Eastside, 425-885-6264; South King County, 253-839-6529). Each works hard to improve the lives of those affected by serious mental illness.

Maybe the 2,000 people soon to lose services and many more like them not being served won't have to become disposable people. Not if more of us step up.

Jonathan R. Beard

Bellevue

We really appreciated "Give Them Shelter," by Philip Dawdy [May 5]. This article gave an accurate portrayal of the complex issues surrounding mental illness and homelessness. As social work students at Seattle University, it was reassuring to see this issue brought to light in such a way that reflects the experiences of those left to fend for themselves in this insane system.

Few people want to shoulder the respon­si­bility that "community care" was supposed to have taken on after deinstitutionalization. This lack of responsibility has perpetuated horrible stigmas that the mentally ill must overcome, along with a system neglectful to the point of worsening mental-health conditions already on the decline.

The many obstacles that play into mental illness and homelessness issues leave bystanders overwhelmed at working toward possible strategies for alleviation. There is a bill being proposed to Congress that we see as an important step toward confronting chronic homelessness and mental illness, which often go hand in hand. The Samaritan Initiative (www.ich.gov/library/samaritan.html) would allocate $70 million toward permanent supportive housing for people who experience chronic homelessness. The National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness estimates that 20 percent to 25 percent of homeless indivi­duals also have a mental illness. Permanent supportive housing would provide a safe venue for those who are often victims of street predators and their own mental instability. On-site counseling would help to maintain basic mental-health needs while at the same time reducing tax dollars allotted toward emergency care often associated with the toils of living on the streets.

Anna Long and

Karin Gorseth

Seattle

Middle-Class Crybabies

I have to say that I did enjoy Nina Shapiro's article on the efforts of WashTech to address the problems of outsourcing tech jobs—a disturbing development that is undermining a lot of what I and many Americans were brought up to believe about "the land of opportunity" and the mythical American work ethic ["The Outsourcing Source," May 5]. It is interesting that in an era of constant discussion of national security issues, few see the relevance of the idea that the dismantling of huge sections of time-honored American industries only contributes to the rotting of America from within—leaving an empty facade much the way Washington state's forests have been decimated, with only a wall of publicly viewed trees to maintain some illusion that something still exists. It seems inevitable that in order to level out with the world's "global economy," America will have to become more of a third-world-styled economy. As the moniker implies, multinational corporations that have benefited and grown from the wealth-biased climate in America have outgrown this country and no longer feel any allegiance to it; they have bigger fish to fry in the huge emerging markets in Asia and elsewhere.

I sincerely feel for what is happening in the tech sector and its ramifications, but I also find it bittersweet, as this high profile is being given to an educated, upper-middle-class sector that, more often than not, has been compensated with high pay, extensive benefits, and even severance-pay packages. With their education and skills, they can probably land on their feet. Then I think about the millions of working-class jobs that have been eliminated or moved, taken from people who don't have college educations, nest eggs, and severance packages and who didn't have the benefit of that middle-class education and money to raise the profile of their issues. At least the working-class jobs actually produced something; many tech jobs only shuffle numbers and information around, creating untold billions for people who hardly reinvest back into this country. And at least the tech jobs are going to places where opportunities are being created, like India, unlike the working-class jobs that were exported to places like Mexico, where misery and exploitation are only being compounded. It makes WashTech sometimes appear as a bullhorn for a bunch of pampered crybabies who lament the new American ethic—the sense of entitlement.

Brian Fox

Seattle

Let us be your bullhorn: Write to Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to letters@seattleweekly.com. By submission of a letter, you agree that we may edit the letter and publish and/or license the publication of it in print, electronically, and for archival purposes. Please include name, location, and phone number.

 
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