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Letters to the Editor 

Published November 17, 2010 at 5:29 a.m.

Suicide Is Painful

I want to commend Ken Picard for writing an article on the recent suicides [“UVM Acknowledges Two Recent Student Deaths But Won’t Use the S-Word,” November 3]. The article is very well written and brings to light the fact that many of us mourn in silence because of the blame, shame and guilt involved.

My son died of suicide on March 31, 2010. As difficult as it may be, I have attempted to speak out on suicide and the aftermath of suicide, because my son deserves to be honored just like any other teen who dies much too young.

If people who lost someone to suicide were allowed to grieve as others do when someone dies from cancer, a car accident, etc, maybe there would be fewer suicides? When individuals die from suicide, they die, more often than not, because they are in excruciating pain. If society were a little better educated about the causes of suicide and the signs of suicide, maybe individuals contemplating suicide would reach out and try to get the help they need. In fact, maybe their friends would know how to try to prevent it … Research has shown that more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance-abuse disorder.

Historically, the press has been resistant in reporting on suicide — just like the UVM administrators. I am sure it is because of the unknown, or the lack of individuals left behind feeling confident enough to speak out about the causes of death. I applaud Seven Days, WCAX and WDEV’s “Mark Johnson Show” for breaking the silence. These media outlets are the survivors’ only hope to feel accepted and grieve openly. 

There is one more thing I would like to comment on: In the article referenced above, Picard wrote, “UVM’s student-run newspaper didn’t explicitly say that [the student] committed suicide — only that police were treating the incident as ‘an untimely death.” When we talk about people “committing suicide,” it leaves a perception that they have committed a crime or their act is sinful. I can promise you that my son — and others who have taken their own lives — don’t do this because they want to; they do it because tolerating the pain any longer is just not an option. The person who dies of suicide is not doing it to others; they are ending their pain.

Cathy Voyer


Off With Their Heads

The Public Service Board has made the decision that Burlington Telecom is in violation of the PSB rulings [“Fair Game,” November 3]. Further, the PSB has said that the city used millions of taxpayer dollars illegally with “wanton disregard” while breaking the law. What am I missing here? The two people who are responsible for this action continue to hold their positions in the city administration and are allowed to make financial decisions that affect the taxpayers of Burlington. Why are they not charged with these illegal actions and put in jail?

Recently we have read about two state employees who have allegedly “bilked” the state out of thousands, not millions, of dollars. They were charged and action was taken to ensure that they pay for their actions. And yet Mayor Kiss and CAO Leopold continue to “work” at their positions without any legal action being taken to ensure that these two individuals do not repeat these illegal activities. I, for one, am appalled! Where is the money coming from for BT to continue its day-to-day operations? Are there enough subscribers to cover the day-to-day operations costs? Or is the city administration reaching into other funds, such as the city employees’ retirement fund? The taxpayers really need some answers, as both Mayor Kiss and CAO Leopold have lost any credibility they had before this fiasco became public. It is time for Mayor Kiss to fire CAO Leopold and then to resign.

Norbert Lavigne


Shot Downtown

I am almost positive that Dan Scott took my picture last week at the bus stop on Cherry Street [“A Photographer Is ‘Banned’ For Taking Pictures on Church Street,” March 10]. I was waiting for the North Avenue bus that would take me to my gym at the Ethan Allen Shopping Center. My hair was unkempt, I was wearing no makeup, and my bulky sweat pants and jacket could be described as less than flattering. If there was anything perverted or unsavory about his interest in my image, I would have to applaud him for his unconventional taste. I believe that his interest in candid photography is an interest in daily life and the human experience. On one hand, I’m sorry that a few peevish people’s complaints resulted in him being banned, but at the same time I would argue that the bus stop on Cherry Street is a much more accurate cross-section of life than Church Street. As nice as it is to stroll down, most normal people have to go elsewhere to obtain the necessities of life. So, Dan Scott, unless you really are a creepy dude perving on the young ladies about town, I hope you keep roaming the side streets with your camera on hand. And if you still have a picture of an unexceptional, lumpy girl at a bus stop, know that she saw you taking her picture, and she’s totally cool with it.

Emma Sklar


Ticket to Slide

Lauren Ober’s [“Tickets, Please,” November 3] is propagating a fallacy. Tickets are not about public safety; they are about revenue. So far for this fiscal year, which began July 1, the state of Vermont has received in excess of $15 million for civil traffic fines. This figure comes from the Department of Finance & Management for the state of Vermont. More than 95 percent of tickets are uncontested — people just send in the money. Most tickets are $250 or less, and it is just not worth the time to contest them. The state is very well aware of this and banks on it — literally.

How many of us actually stop to question the legality of a ticket? A ticket is a “civil violation complaint.” A “complaint” in a civil action is the “document that initiates a lawsuit.” There must be “standing” to legally initiate a lawsuit. Standing is proof that the plaintiff (the police officer) has suffered injury or damage from the defendant’s (your) actions. How many tickets conform to this standard? Yet that is the law. How can the legal system be above the law?

For those of you actually interested in knowing your rights, I suggest going to YouTube. Search for Marc Stevens, who wrote Adventures in Legal Land, and John Harris, who founded the People’s United Community.

I have personally witnessed a police officer perjure himself and a judge commit treason by allowing a trial to continue at which the judge had no jurisdiction. It is blatantly obvious that the current government does consider itself above the law. Until we the people gather together and cut off their funding, the injustice will continue.

Amanda Lovell


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