Open Letter to The New York Times from Cornell’s President

I commend David Skorton, Cornell’s University President, who, instead of trying to sweep the subject under the rug, has taken the step of writing publicly about the suicides that have taken place at Cornell, and for calling for a National dialogue about suicide.
Many of us have been calling for the same, so far nobody has been interested. But while the media has not liked the subject, we, survivors, do not like losing our sons and daughters to suicide, and those who have the power to open and expand the dialogue, need to step in and step up.
Show producers and anchors, don’t wait for it to happen in your home before deciding to intervene!!!!
I am also pleased to see my own sentiments about connectivity shared, and that is that we are losing true human connection.
Thank you President Skorton for helping promote a dialogue. But there is one thing that I think you are wrong about, and not only you, but also President Sexton of NYU and a lot of others also don’t seem to grasp, and that is that it is WRONG and useless to put the onus on those who are suffering to ask for help. It is NOT a question of them being smart or not, and if you think that, then you have not grasped essence of what causes someone to self-destruct. For the sake of your students and to help other Universities with their students, I urge you to be humble and to look at this huge issue with an open heart and open eyes.
I make myself available to help.

Thank you,
Esmeralda Williamson-Noble
Andrew’s Mummy

Here is Skorton’s open letter

On and off campus, there is an epidemic of suicide among young people that is one of the top three causes of death in that age group. As a father, teacher, physician and president of a university where we have recently experienced the horror of multiple suicides, I have long been concerned about this national public health crisis.

In a time of unrelenting connectivity, through Facebook, Twitter and our smartphones, paradoxically it is too easy to stop connecting directly with those most able to help our young people. What is the way ahead?

First, we need more research into the factors that lead to suicide in this age group and how to identify those at greatest risk. Second, on our campuses, we need to forge ever more effective partnerships among students, parents, teachers, counselors and administrators in support of our students. And third, students must learn that it is smart to ask for help.

If there is anything we can learn from the recent tragedies on our campus it is this: Being a caring community is important, but engaging the national dialogue is essential.

David J. Skorton
President, Cornell University
Ithaca, N.Y., March 19, 2010

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