Efforts to encourage the community to openly address issues related to mental illness appear to be gaining traction, often generated by the families of those who have witnessed the ravages of the disease up close.
An essay in these pages by the mother of a young victim of suicide (“Telling The Truth About Mental Illness,” Opinion, Feb. 26) prompted wide and poignant reactions, with dozens and dozens of online comments praising Ruth Roth for her willingness to share the story of her son, Jonathan. Most compelling were responses from parents of children suffering from mental illness and from readers who themselves are in pain. One woman wrote in part: “I have suffered from depression for 48 years. The most painful part is not having anyone to talk to that understands. I feel like a burden… So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing your story. Hugs.”
Taking another approach, Nina Kampler and her husband Zvi Marans of Teaneck, N.J., say they are committed to finding positive ways to respond to the recent suicide of their son, Judah Marans, a student at the University of California Berkeley School of Law and active member of the Jewish community on campus. The Chabad Jewish Center at Berkeley initiated a campus-wide Day of Loving Kindness for this week, seeking to promote “acts of goodness and kindness in Judah’s memory” via social media. Parallel events are taking place around the country, organized by students and friends of Judah. They are asking people to pledge to perform a good deed in honor of his life.
We applaud the courage of the Roth and Marans families and all those who are doing what they can to defeat the stigma of mental illness by bringing the discussion out of the shadows in the hope of preventing future tragedies.