Wednesday, September 15, 1982.
The Michigan Daily
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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Filling up the park bench
Vol. XCIII, No. 6
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
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:wait than ev
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takes to get a
20 or so minut
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" Do home
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know, the one
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Now it turns
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for sending o
will be $37 mil
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have mailed o
there are mail
tu.ally, for a 1
joys of forced busing
ENTS on North Campus, possible to polish off a term paper or a
nning of fall term is a take-home test before the Geddes stop;
wooded acres offer a . Break down social barriers. What
at from the hectic pace better time to meet new people than
, the trees begin to turn
, thd trfamiliar sound when wedged next to them in common
rs and a 1amimasa strife? The possibilities are endless on
more than 100 times a the North Campus ride-imagine an
id of diesel buses rum- art school aesthete and a calculator-
eir regular route to Cen- toting engineer having a go at talking
ts feel like a number at about design.
ty, but Bursley-Baits " Strike up a, romance. North Cam-
get the chance to feel pus students know that many of the
as they pack into the best dates can be found on the late-
ever-behind-schedule night shuttle. Perfect pick-up lines
ial by fire that toughens with an appropriate twist: "What's a
It's a way to balance nice boy/girl like you doing squashed
suffering. It's getting to in a bus like this?" If the relationship
h Campus. becomes too demanding, you have the
however, the ordeal has time to end it before your stop arrives.
en more acute. Due to an " Play a round of the look-out-the-
ombination of construc- window-and-find-things-that-start- with
nd shifts of engineering -this-letter-of-the-alphabet game. Use
ments, buses to North the zoology museum and the hos-
a tighter fit and a longer pital's x-ray wings to stump friends.
er. To help turn this . Learn how to drive the bus. Why
drawback intota poten- not relievehthe arduous duties of the
are a few suggestions for driver and pick up a marketable trade
the 20 or so minutes it at the same time? An especially
bus these days (and the desirable alternative for liberal arts
es it takes the bus to get majors.
work. Avoid spending And above all, don't worry. A task
Ugh by doing required force of officials has been formed to
g the wait. If the system alleviate the problem.
clogged, it may even be Maybe they have a five-year plan.
Junk mail junkies
too long ago that the money on itself.
gned outrage at the cost It's not that franking-the priviledge
art Office Building-you which allows Congressmen and
with the gymnasium and Senators to mail letters to their con-
n price tag. stituents for free-is itself inherently
out that the senators are bad. Naturally, it's a good idea to en-
much money every four courage contact between those who
out their insipid newslet- govern and the governed.
Most of the newsletters, however,
o remarks made before are not designed to establish contact
nday by Senator Charles with constituents as they are to plug
aryland), this year's bill the sponsoring senator. In some cases,
ut all those newsletters the pols' goal in sending out newslet-
lion, more than twice the ters is nothing more noble than a
years ago. desire to develop those all-important
r, said Mathias, sent out Later this year, Mathias-who says
eces of newsletters last he quit mailing out newsletters in
her six million in the first 1980-will chair a hearing on newslet-
ar. He said some senators ter production and mass mailing. But
ut more newsletters than even though the desire to control mass
[boxes in their states. mailings is well intentioned, the
Sure. Surprising? Not prospects do not seem very promising.
rather predictable, ac- After all, the Hart Building eventually
body that loves to send was built.
Coping with teen age suicide
By Rasa Gustaitis
Steven Koenig was about to graduate from
high school and was already registered for
college when one night, after finishing work
at an ice cream store, he drove to a lonely
spot near Sacramento, Calif., and shot him-
Steven's mother, Marilyn Koenig, still does
not know why her son took his own life. She
had viewed his moodiness as just another
stage-something others of her seven
children had gone through. What she does
know, now, is that Steven's method of han-
dling his adolescent problems has grown
shockingly common among American youth.
Suicide now is the second leading cause of
death for male adolescents in California
(third in the nation), reaching the highest
rate since World War I.
THE SUICIDE rate for 15- to 24-year-olds
has risen 300 percent nationwide in the past 20
years, the most significant increase among
age categories, according to the U.S. Bureau
of Vital Statistics. White males, often from
middle-class and affluent suburbs, are the
most likely victims.
So alarming is the increase that suicide
prevention is beginning to be taught in high
schools in communities as widespread as
Ithaca, N.Y., Omaha, Neb., and the counties
of Marin and San Mateo in California. In Por-
tsmouth, Ohio, a course will be offered at a
Prompted by the "shocking statistics,"
California statehSen. RobertsPresley,
Democrat from Long Beach, has set up a task
force on the problem, which may recommend
that all high school students in the state be
taught about suicidal behavior and ap-
ACCORDING TO Charlotte Ross, task force
co-chair and director of the Suicide Preven-
tion and Crisis Center in San Mateo County,
"Ten percent of high school seniors will
report they had attempted suicide at some
point in their lives. More than 50 percent have
seriously considered it to the point where they
figured out how to do it."
Ross conducted pioneering research on
suicidal behavior in 1977, set up the first
prevention program in high schools, and has
seen her work replicated elsewhere.
Young suicidal teen-agers are most likely to
hang themselves, older teen boys to shoot
themselves, older teen girls to cut their wrists
or take overdoses of aspirin, small children to
fall from windows and balconies or to run in
front of cars, Ross said. The method of choice
helps explain why many more boys than girls
die. Most girls who try suicide are rescued.
- According to the National Center for Health
-Statistics, about,4,000 young people between
ages 15 and 24 killed themselves in 1978, the
last year for which firm figures are available.
The rate appears to have increased since
then. In addition, many car accidents in-
volving teens-perhaps half, by some
estimates-are in fact suicides, though they
are not listed as such, according to experts.
THE EXPLANATION for the rising
adolescent suicide rate still is mostly
shrouded in mystery. Marilyn Koenig, for in-
stance, had no idea that her son was suicidal,
yet Steven had planned carefully, going so far
as to write a note and sign over his auto
Research shows that parents and adults are
far less likely to know of suicidal tendencies
in their children than are peers. "Most of
them turn to each other-and they don't know
how to help each other," said Ross. Often, in
fact, friends can unwittingly precipitate
tragedy by scoffing or even daring a
depressed youngster to go ahead, according
to Michael Peck, a clinical psychologist in Los
Angeles and the other co-chair of the Califor-
nia legislative task force. Therefore, he ways,
"the most important single rescue group are
But some authorities resist efforts to
provide straightforward information about
suicide to young people on the basis of what
Ross calls "contagion. theory"-if you talk
about it, you might provoke it. In fact, she
says, "the reverse is true: When you don't
talk about it you get underground infor-
mation. It's like sex-if anything, there is an
added mystique to a subject that is forbid-
IN FOUR years of work with adolescents in
San Mateo's schools, Ross and her allies have
tried to convey some critical messages. For
instance, she stresses the importance of con-
sulting a trusted adult, of understanding that
"suicide is a permanent solution to a tem-
porary problem," and tells youngsters who
might be sworn to secrecy that "it's far more
important to keep a friend than a secret."
Suicidal children are like seedlings that
have been transplanted too often, says Ross.
They lack the root strength to deal with
stress. Many come from "reconstituted
families": In San Mateo, less than half of all
children live with both natural parents.
Frequent moves, for economic or personal
reasons, disconnect them from friends,
teachers, other adults.
Unlike children who grow up in the two
worlds of adults and of peers, many suicidal
children are forced to rely on peers* aloneg
because the adult world no longer is there as a
support system, Ross says. "You have kids
who are not that tied to life. And then, when
you have stress, a depression, and there is no
one to turn to, it can be fatal,"
ROSS AND others believe that it is too sim-
plistic to think of economic stress, drugs, and
alcohol as causes of suicidal behavior.
Drinking and drugs, however, may
precipitate an irrevocable act by lowering
inhibitions. They can be viewed as a form of~
"suicide by inches," asvsome experts call"
them, allowing escape from emotional suf-
No generalization fits all cases. "You can-
not pin it to any one thing," said Marilyn
Koenig, who has become a member of
Senator Presley's task force in the hopes of
saving other children from the tragedy she
could not avert from her own. "I don't know;
if we had a program maybe Steven would be
alive, maybe not."
Koenig also has joined Compassionate
Friends, a nationwide network of parents who
have lost children. At one meeting, she said,'
half the parents present had lost children to
"What I would like to pass on to parents is
an awareness that your child can be more
depressed than you realize," she said. "I just
had not considered that. If you don't have
proof positive, you just don't want to believe
Gustaitis wrote this article for the
Pacific News Service.
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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Mandatory fees for MSA should end
. . - - _ ' - -
To the Daily:
Finally, a member of the Daily
staff has seen the light! Charles
Thomson's article criticizing
MSA's mandatory "con-
tribution" (MSA tax: Pay up or
drop out, Sept. 9) has hit the nail
on the head. Of the four points he
brings up, two deserve special at-
The most important of these is
the first: "Students should not be
f:r..,. n nnn.rhittPmnva, to~ I
on campus. Well what about my
freedom to support or not sup-
port those "thoughts"?
Thomson's fourth point is
telling also. Without mandatory
dues, we would soon see if MSA
really represents the needs and
viewpoints of the student body. If
they do, then the money will flow,
if they don't, (which I think is the
case), then they will have a
problem. They will also have to
cath mna a..*n ri,.n an wav..ne
current assembly and its op-
pressive, unfair, and destructive
Sink the s
To the Daily:
The Trident submarine is the
most ominous instrument of war
ever invented. Just one of these,
we are told, contains more
destructive power than all of the
system of funding.
Behind this act of pre-game
stupidity is the fact that this huge
(as long as two football fields)
new nuclear-armed submarine
happens to be named the U.S.S.
Michigan. But the insensitivity,
the shermindlessness. of thi