Addicted to Love
Regarding Steve Jackson's story on Debrah Snider and Tom Luther, "A Wanted Man," in the January 24 issue: What an excellent yet sad example of what happens to some adults who were abused as children. Maybe a quarter of what they shared was love; most of it was addiction. Debrah, looking to save someone, needed to be saved herself. To some degree, she is truly just as responsible for the murders of these women. And though I'm sure Tom probably does have some good side to him, the reality of him healing in this lifetime seems remote.

Having been a victim of child abuse and a teenager becoming an abuser, I understand the dynamics too well. It has taken me fifteen years of intense therapy and work to end the cycle. It took the birth of my daughter fifteen years ago for me to want to change. Was I capable of beating her? Yes. But I made one promise to her and myself: Never again would I hurt someone--and if I came close, I would kill myself first.

If we as a society want to end the violence, we must put an end to child abuse.
K. Williamson

Out at Home
Thanks for Alan Prendergast's insightful article "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," concerning the plight of the former Highlands residents, in the January 17 issue.

My late brother Pete was one of the Highlands 100, and he recently passed away due to bronchial complications. He liked Highlands; it offered him a stable and healthful environment compared to the alternatives he had. It offered a caring staff and privacy, as well as interaction with others in the same boat.

After Highlands closed, Pete moved into a smaller facility and, for many of the reasons mentioned in Prendergast's article, eventually moved into an apartment. One cannot guess fate nor easily lay blame, but I cannot help but think that if Highlands had stayed open, my brother might be alive today.

Name withheld on request
Denver has daycare centers for the young, elderly and mentally retarded. Wonder drugs have been able to silence the voices inside the heads of paranoid schizophrenics and reduce the manic depressive's emotional highs and lows. I refuse to think that the City of Denver cannot do better for the Highlands 100.

If we Americans can put a man on the moon and Marilyn Hickey on television, we can mainstream our mentally ill. We forget that Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Thomas Eagleton and author Steve Allen were/are manic depressive. Many schizophrenics function well as actresses/actors or authors. Marilyn Monroe was said to be a schizophrenic. What Denver needs to do is provide a job-placement and training agency for these mentally ill and then provide low-income housing and social services as needed. The only difference between an Abraham Lincoln and a Highlands 100 resident is money. If a mentally ill person has money, he is an eccentric. If not, then he is a non-person.

More mentally ill people could be put to work in gainful employment if they had the same civil rights and legal protection as the physically disabled. I have every confidence in the world that what Goodwill Industries has done for the physically disabled, a nonprofit organization can do for the mentally ill. I truly believe that society's perception will change if the mentally disabled could get work.

Why can't the state start a temporary-job computer bulletin board for such people? I think even a small paycheck would do wonders for a patient's self-esteem. Is one human life as important as one Yankee dollar?

Margaret Okagawa

Alan Prendergast did a great job writing about very difficult, complex issues. I know many consumers with mental illness and many mental-health workers, advocates, friends, neighbors and owners who try so very hard to do the right thing. There are just no easy answers. No comfortable solutions. But much good is being done, although much sadness still exists. I fear it will always be so.

Your article was well-researched, fair and balanced. And though I'd love to sign my name for publication, I'll just say thanks for bringing this information and the stories of so many other persons with mental illness to light. Perhaps it will help in some small way to enlighten all of us and make us more understanding.

Name withheld on request

The Other Side of the Tax
When I saw your January 3 "To Bee or Not to Bee" cover, I thought it might be another piece on the federal subsidy to beekeepers, which splashed for a while in the media a year or so ago. I was surprised but not dismayed when it turned out to be about state property taxes.

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