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Week of April 21

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Gladu’s on-air remarks troubling

Sir: While attempting to explain her concerns regarding assisted dying legislation on CHOK’s morning talk show, MP Marilyn Gladu recently quipped that “everyone’s suicidal” when they “break up with their boyfriend at 16.”

While many needs are still not being met, much effort has been made to combat the stigma and trivialization of mental illness in Canada and communities like Sarnia, through grassroots efforts and co-operation between agencies at all levels of government.

Comments like Gladu’s undermine these efforts and endanger people of all ages.

Characterizing depression, mental illness and suicidal thoughts as something circumstantially trivial that should be ignored propagates a dangerous myth, one that commonly creates obstacles in the wellbeing and survival of individuals experiencing mental health challenges, and in receiving help from loved ones.

Furthermore, dismissing the role breakups and relationship failures can play in the mental health of teens is itself irresponsible. It makes it easier to dismiss mental illness in teens, and easier to miss other important clues about young people who may really need help.

It is a mistake to expect all breakups and the way they are experienced are the same for every circumstance, or to ignore them as an irrelevant inevitability of being a teenager. Sometimes there is trauma involved or the emotions can be a catalyst for larger problems.

These things are also experienced by males and people whose gender or sexual orientation might mean their relationships aren’t just about “breaking up with boyfriends.”

Perpetuating the “emotional teenage girl” stereotype makes it more difficult to accept that everyone (including teenage girls) needs access to mental healthcare, and to have his or her mental health taken seriously.

It was probably not Gladu’s intent to drive these messages home, but the impact of them is important to address.

If you or someone you know are feeling suicidal, contact the Lambton Mental Health Crisis Service at 519-3445 or 1-800-307-4319, or the Distress Line at 519-336-3000 or 1-888-DISTRES.

For teens and youth who need quick access to help, St. Clair Child & Youth offer a Walk-In Therapy Clinic on Tuesdays. More info at http://www.stclairchild.ca/about/clinical or phone 519-337-3701.

Adam Young

Sarnia

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Sarnia has lost a true hero

Sir: I am so saddened to hear of the passing of Jane LeClair.

While many in Sarnia-Lambton may not recognize her name, the impact that wonderful woman had on the social standing of so many residents of our area will be felt far into the future.

I met Jane in 1998 at the Lochiel Kiwanis Centre.  She was working her magic of modeling adult-child interactions at the Drop-In Centre and I, on behalf of the Organization for Literacy, went to visit the children as Gramma Goose.

We met often at the Friendship House and the House by the Side of the Road where OLL held homework clubs for the neighbourhood children. We sat on two different community committees together and I was always awestruck by her compassionate determination in creating, obtaining funding for, and implementing programs for women and children in need.

Her drive was immensely powerful.  If ever a community could attest to having their own icon representing the virtuous characteristics akin to those of Mother Theresa, that icon would be Jane LeClair.

She was a true hero and I will forever be grateful for having had her as a mentor.

Lorrie Werden

Sarnia

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It’s all about free speech

Sir: Well, here we go again.

It must take some special kind of mental gymnastics to equate MP Marilyn Gladu’s support of free speech with, among other things, bigotry and sexism.

It also takes a special skill to equate the concept of free speech with alleged corruption in the Harper Government.

The issue at play here has always been that of free speech. Full stop. It has nothing to do with what Donald Trump said, or the previous governing party, or for that matter Rob Ford, Mike Harris et al.

I would suggest that those who find free speech offensive acquaint themselves with the Magna Carta, or, if they don’t agree with old white guys, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Oh, and by the way, if you think you are over-educated just remember, education and intelligence are most often mutually exclusive.

Rich Kneller

Sarnia

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