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PLATFORM : Compassion, Please

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At a time when his depression may have been most dark, Foster told his sister of his reluctance to see a psychiatrist because it might jeopardize his continuing to hold a White House pass.

Do we have a climate of myths and misunderstandings in this country that leads to mockery of psychological pain and intimidation of people in the public eye and prevents them from reaching out? Did Foster flee condemnation, mockery or “trial by society” by choosing death by his own hand?

The last several decades have seen decline in the stigmatization of those seeking psychiatric help. But politicization of a suicide, usually a tragic outcome of a medical disorder, can have a regressive effect on these gains and also be brutal to the victims. It has become too accepted a practice to exploit personal trauma in our culture for political or journalistic gain. It is as if no boundaries exist.

A culture is only as good as the way it treats its neediest citizens.

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