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Families and Suicides

April 12, 1987

It is with great anger that I respond to your article "The Gathering Storm Over Suicides Among Teen-Agers" (by Ursula Vils, March 23).

As a parent who has spent two years agonizing over the suicide of my popular, attractive, intelligent 20-year-old son, I have discovered that many factors other than family play a part in youth suicide, and I take issue with the suicide prevention (establishment) for its indictment of the family. It is unfair and wrong.

The families of most of the young suicide victims are caring, loving people who sought professional help for their children when it was apparent that something was amiss. Many families do not only the best they can for a distressed child, but all that can be done through treatment by the so-called experts. Sometimes the family's best efforts cannot prevent a suicide, just as at times exercise and proper diet cannot prevent a heart attack.

Our family is one of the most cohesive, caring families that we know. We have lived on the same block for 22 years, our children have grown up with the support of a loving extended family (two sets of grandparents) and friends within two miles of our home. They have all been supportive, yet all this was not enough to make our son's life worthwhile to him.

Many different elements contribute to suicides, whether teen or adult, i.e., biological, chemical and environmental factors. To blame the family is an outrage and a myth. It is about time the "experts" spend more time looking at other causes. Parents agonize enough over the deaths of their children without all the blame being placed on their shoulders by the "experts."

JEANNE JACOVES

Los Angeles

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