To the editor:
This letter is in regard to the editorial piece published Monday, March 31, titled "Demonic possession," written by Managing Editor Peter Crowley.
While this was a story that received notable attention in our community, causing confusion, pain and outrage, four days later, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise has maintained its silence. I find this lack of response truly negligent. The facts are that the piece was strongly discriminatory and stigmatizing.
Mental illness is not some sort of demonic possession. Current statistics show that globally, 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health disorders. It is, in fact, a medical condition, and the mental health movement has fought long and hard to dispel such archaic myths and idiotic terminology. Mental illness does not discriminate. Young or old, rich or poor, it crosses all nationalities and affects everyone.
Yes, raising awareness and dispelling stigma has been a long, hard fight. Yet in one editorial Mr. Crowley took us back to the dark ages. This is not exactly what one expects from an educated man. This is, in fact, the kind of thinking that kept the mentally ill tortured and in chains for generations.
The fact is, the drug problems we are facing would be lessened if people could understand that self-medicating with drugs and alcohol is, in fact, the issue. If we raise more awareness about mental illness and make it the acceptable norm to get help for mental health issues, we would have less drug and alcohol use and far fewer suicides. It all starts with awareness and open minds, not with the demonizing of people who have a diagnosis.
To educate, first you must understand the topic, so plan on doing some legitimate research. Do not just throw out sweeping generalizations that degrade and damage.
I ask the the Adirondack Daily Enterprise to do exactly this. I ask that the ADE apologize for the editorial and devote time and print to educate and inform the readers on the facts of mental health: Destroy the myths, and don't promote them. It is the least you can do to inform the local community with facts and not with horror stories of biblical proportion.
Teaching our children understanding and educating them on fact rather than fiction will ensure that they will seek help for mental health concerns by not self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, or even suffering in silence. It is the most important thing we can do as parents, as educators and as examples.
In regard to the editorial comments on the recent death in our community, my heart goes out to the families and individuals affected by Mr. Crowley's words. Truly their family's privacy and dignity was not honored here. My heart also goes out to anyone who felt like they were shamed or degraded because of the editorial. I hope we can heal and learn from this action so that it never happens again in our local media.
I ask again that the that the paper seek out local mental health resources and print facts and bring awareness to this important issue that truly affects us all.