Mail from the Metro

December 13, 2008 Published in the November 2008 issue of Seattle Met


As a therapist reading about the suicide of Ric Weiland (“Control Alt -Delete,” September 2008), I was taken by how this article does a lot to promote the myths, ignorance, and social stigma around suicide.

For example, the “finger pointing” part of the article only endorses and perpetuates a poor strategy to cope with a suicide. Finger pointing is seductive because finding a scapegoat gives the blamers the illusion that they have more control over their own lives or their loved ones because they believe they can understand the “why” around the suicide. It deflects attention from the blamer’s possible role and it takes away any potential responsibility from the person who completed the suicide. Blaming also causes incredible damage to those who are the targets, who already are dealing with their own complicated and deep grief.

The subject of suicide is complex and goes way beyond the scope of this article, I understand. Yet close to 90 people per day in the U.S. complete suicide, according to a study by the American Association of Suicidology. There are resources to help those feeling suicidal or people who are coping with the aftermath of a suicide. It would have helped to highlight people taking healthy steps to cope with this suicide and guide people to resources while telling Weiland’s story.

Mark R. Hoagland, MA, LMHC


In your “Northwest College Rankings” (October 2008) you provided a service to Washington by localizing the rating efforts that more commonly take place at national levels.

One thing was a bit off, though. You used to rate student satisfaction. There are really small numbers of respondents to that Web site—not statistically significant in regard to the populations of the colleges. They are also using ranked data (represented by grades: A, B, C, D, F), which is not compared across respondents as it could be with quantitative, measured data. One person’s B may be another’s C, despite the two individuals’ being equally pleased or annoyed. Respondents are not random, but self-selecting. These factors combined mean that’s results are not particularly strong statistically. In Evergreen State College’s case, possibly two or three students adding a highly positive or negative point of view might change the rating. (I just took a great course at Evergreen on statistics; I thought I might point it out.) We have a B on the site today, which is good, so I am not complaining too loud, just indicating that the approach is not very rigorous.

Jason Wettstein
Media and Community Relations Manager
Evergreen State College


Your “Note from the Editor” (August 2008) illustrated one of the biggest problems facing Washington residents today: the shortage of primary-care physicians. Like you, people are seeking accessible, quality primary-care services—particularly from someone they can communicate with comfortably. Advanced-practice nursing is stepping up to be part of the solution. A recent study by the UW’s Center for Health Workforce Studies revealed that nurse-practitioners and physician assistants provide about 25 percent of primary care in Washington’s rural areas and 20 percent in urban areas. Nurse-practitioners have a track record of success in helping patients self-manage their illnesses and providing services targeted to keeping people well.

Nancy Woods, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean, University of Washington School of Nursing


In regard to increased police patrolling of jaywalkers (Urban Brawl, August 2008): During two years of walking to and from the office via Pike Street, I would daily see an unsuspecting person look both ways to ensure that a speed limit and stop-light ignoring bus was not bearing down on them, then continue across the intersection only to be chased by a police officer roaring down Third Avenue on a Harley Davidson, blocking pedestrian and vehicular traffic as he issued a citation. Meanwhile, every person with a substance-abuse problem is ignored as they stumble across the street directly in front of traffic. Perhaps jaywalkers are only worth the pursuit time when it is obvious that profit is ensured.

As if this wasn’t absurd enough, I discovered recently that officers patrolling the Burke-Gilman Trail are ticketing riders exceeding the 15 mile per hour speed limit and not yielding to vehicles where the trail crosses city streets. Instead of enforcing vehicular traffic to stop at these intersections, cyclists were the chosen target.

It seems as though the City of Seattle and the police department are teaming up to give vehicular traffic priority over sustainable transportation choices. Perhaps Mayor Nickels’s green initiatives should be more widely questioned and criticized.

Jared H.

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