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Letters to the Editor: Robert Fuller had a lifetime of foul play against him before his suicide

Robert Fuller funeral
Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer gives a eulogy during a “homegoing service” for Robert Fuller in Living Stone Cathedral of Worship in Littlerock, Calif., on June 30.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Robert Fuller’s death was ruled a suicide in which no foul play was involved.

Fuller taking his own life was the culmination of a lifetime of foul play — maybe not at the hands of an individual or a lynch mob but surely at the hands of systemic racism.

Fuller was homeless, had mental health issues and grew up in a region that is known for its history of racism toward African Americans. By inference, he was unemployed, lacked a viable education and was beat down so much he heard voices — and they weren’t saying, “I’m Black, and I’m proud.”

As a result, he tried to end the pain by self-immolation and self-harm.

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No foul play? I beg to differ.

Warren Furutani, Gardena

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To the editor: Fuller’s emotional anguish and his family’s pain was right out there for all to see, with three hospitalizations in three states, living in shelters, setting himself on fire and more.

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Society failed him. He lost his mother when he was eight and lived with various family members who were aware of his depression. He was known to our mental health system and law enforcement. His calls for help were many.

A “case study” group should be convened to better understand Fuller’s tragic journey so that others can find their way. How could this tragedy have been avoided? How can different systems coordinate help for people like Fuller? Can we offer new strategies when the help we’re offering breaks down?

The case study group needs to be convened at the highest government levels to be taken seriously. Anyone who might have seen signs that Fuller needed help should be included.

As his family’s attorney said, Fuller “was a young man, 24 years old still trying to find his way.” He couldn’t find his way alone — he needed help.

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Hank Borenstein, Los Angeles


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