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Letters

Suicide Botch
I read Patricia Calhoun's August 20 "Suicide Mission" with great interest, as I have worked in the psychiatric field for ten-plus years and have evaluated individuals for lethality. If the documents in this case regarding aftercare instructions are true, West Pines should probably be prepared for a settlement, and rightly so. Such instructions are truly malpractice and non-professional in nature. Assessing for suicidality is fairly structured, and access to weapons, with an added factor of possible alcohol abuse, is a red flag that calls for a 72-hour hold.

Sean O'Connor
via the Internet

"Suicide Mission" was a real public service. So-called mental-health evaluations by unqualified providers are only unfair in the best case, tragic in the worst case. As a psychologist, I've found that most patients referred to me have been injured at work or in motor vehicle accidents. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment's Division of Workers' Compensation has published medical-treatment guidelines, especially for evaluation and management of chronic pain, which specify that all patients with chronic pain will have psychosocial evaluation and that the evaluation must be done by psychiatric MDs/DOs or Ph.D. or Psy.D. psychologists (or certain other licensed mental-health professionals who are supervised by psychiatrists or psychologists). It is very unfair and also dangerous, but unfortunately quite common, for nonpsychiatric MDs to render opinions about the mental-health status of patients.

David D. Robinson, Ph.D.
Boulder

John Sheron tried twice to kill himself, and a hospital "wrongfully caused" him to succeed? Puh-leeze! Let evolution take its course!

David Hakala
via the Internet

The woman who did John Sheron's "assessment" would seem to be the one who needs to skip the margaritas. Any sober professional could see that this was a man in serious trouble.

Joelie Larson
via the Internet

Sympathy for the Devils
Alan Prendergast's August 20 "Hard Cell" article on forced cell extractions at Colorado's supermax included this quote: "Something is seriously wrong if a hundred guys are willing to get beat up to bring attention to these issues."

Yes, Dorothy, this is not Kansas, and something is seriously wrong--to wit, the hundred sociopathic criminals ("guys" sounds so much less malignant) who have finally encountered a system that refuses to simply roll over in the face of their stubbornness and now snivel "poor pitiful me."

David Carroll
Denver

All of us with loved ones inside CSP owe a debt of gratitude to Alan Prendergast for "Hard Cell." We all know about the cell extractions, beatings, psychological torture and strip-celling perpetrated on our prisoners. The public certainly doesn't care, because CSP houses "the worst of the worst." But the Department of Corrections defines "worst of the worst" any way that suits them. Perhaps that's one reason so many jailhouse lawyers have been shipped to CSP--to silence voices of dissent. Once inside CSP, these men have absolutely no rights. Even when they're allowed to file grievances, the problem is never addressed. I'll wager that in the history of CSP, not one prisoner has ever won a grievance. (To anyone at the DOC: Prove me wrong.) I guess that's because prisoners are always misguided idiots or violent revolutionaries bent on the destruction of the system. The poor DOC. Not only does it have all the weapons and staff and power and control on its side, but it also has the state legislature and public opinion. What's a helpless bureaucracy to do?

My loved one has been kept at CSP for three years because he is a "high-profile prisoner." We've had our mail confiscated for such seditious material as Winnie the Pooh drawings and a chapter from Thomas Costain's medieval classic The Conquering Family. Although CSP cannot arbitrarily keep mail out unless it's a "threat to the facility," I guess Piglet and Pooh and Richard the Lionheart are secret instruments of insurrection. More seriously, nothing critical of CSP is ever allowed inside. I am going to send my prisoner a copy of "Hard Cell"; no doubt Warden Neal will confiscate that, too.

Mary Ellen Johnson
via the Internet

The Thrones of God
Kenny Be's August 13 Worst-Case Scenario, "Broncos Keepers Stadium," was one of the best chuckles I've had in a long time. One question I had that Kenny didn't answer was whether or not women would be allowed to attend a game there. Of course, if they exclude women, they could save a lot of money on toilets, building only urinals instead of all those cushy stalls.

Sherry Patten
Denver

Tortured Logic
Your (curiously anonymous) Web feature "Gory Glory Hallelujah" does less to highlight the inanity of Beanie Baby collecting than it does our society's unfortunate tendency to treat violence as entertainment. If you find torture funny, I am sure Amnesty International could send you some pretty "hilarious" literature. Granted, you destroyed an object, but you endowed this thing with a personality and wished it was us. Violence purely for shock value is facile and tedious, and I left the article with less of an impression of the shallow minds and lives of Beanie Baby collectors than of the immaturity of Westword editors and writers.

Whether you realize it or not, such articles foster a tolerance for violence. Little wonder the United States is filled with school shootings, drive-bys and other "entertaining" violent acts. Children are fed violence from their earliest cartoon-watching days, and now I am sorry to see that otherwise respectable newspapers proffer torture in the name of entertainment. Where is the journalistic merit in that? I hope that you show a greater amount of professionalism in your magazine in the future. Would you consider a $100 donation to Amnesty International in the wake of your offering of violence?

Stuart Hamby
Louisville

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