Another Conversation We Need To Have

Back when I submitted this, I never got the standard call asking if I wrote it.  I’m guessing I violated some rule or sent it to the wrong email or something.  I was just going to let it slide and then some recovery communities started talking about a rash of suicides lately.  Therefore, I thought reposting it was necessary.


Working with my therapist, I even have a lot more understanding of the two days I started to put a suicide plan together.  That’s what I am referring to in the last paragraph.  I promise to write about that soon now that I’ve been given the greenlight to write again.


6 April 2018

Editorial Page

Utica Observer-Dispatch

221 Oriskany Plaza

Utica, NY  13501

Dear Editors:

A little less than two weeks ago, a man threw himself off a building in downtown Utica.  It seems as a community we have failed to have a discussion about what this event teaches us.  While many items are on that list, I have time and space to present two of them.


Willie Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks.  He replied, “That’s where the money is.”  Since so many of our addicted and mentally ill have a connection to the downtown, does it not follow to locate the hospital there since “that’s where the sickness is??”


Imagine two scenarios.  In one, our jumper starts to regret his decision but realizes “help” is off at the mythical St. Luke’s.  In the other, he gets to the top of the bank building, looks down and realizes the doctors and nurses who have helped him in the past are a block away.  Anyone who has had to “walk” a homeless person to a psychiatric unit or a detox knows that location can be the difference between life and death.


The second lesson is about political attitude towards the mentally ill.  Not only was Rufus Elefante a bigot and criminal, he treated the mentally ill as “weak.”  He thought addicts were making a “choice.”  Beyond that, his “Compare Politics Model” has held this area back to the point where it is 5 decades behind in some areas especially education.  His attitude towards addicts and the mentally ill still lingers.  Just read Topix or other local message boards.  One local candidate tried to cause people to relapse in order to win a seat.


Those who are already suffering cannot help but think the local government hates them too.  I have been on the verge of suicide twice.  One was a reaction to mania, the other was a reaction to a famous person’s suicide.  I am still here because I could reach out and get help.  We need to change our political environment so every mentally ill person feels that they can get help without fear of judgement.






Robert T. Oliveira

Clark Mills, NY  13501



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