Through the untimely death of entertainer Robin Williams, a bright light is shining again on the often-avoided conversation about suicide. In my work over the years as a mental health professional, helping people through crisis of spirit, marriage and family, I have seen firsthand how people feel hopeless in their struggle. I have also seen the tragic consequences of someone committing suicide and the family members left behind.While we all face challenges in life, some of us tragically succumb to fears that manifest into a nightmare, bound and determined to erase our will to live. If you or someone you know and love is at a breaking point, especially one so low they speak of wanting to end their life, take immediate action to get them help. Call the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services 1-855-CRISIS-1 or (1-855-274-7471). Someone is there 24-7 to listen and help. Other resources include: Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, 615-297-1077, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273 TALK (8255).
E. DOUGLAS VARNEY, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Campaign rhetoric features many intangible code words that mean different things to different people. One such word, "justice," the quality of being fair and reasonable, when infused with empathy, the ability to put ourselves in another's place, links us to the divine. Empathy for the poor and different completes a just standard of right and wrong tempered by divine love. Those lacking empathy are fearful of others. This fear of difference easily morphs into prejudice; prejudice morphs into discrimination and exploitation. In 1960, in an introductory course in religion, the professor asked, "Is it fair a black person cannot use our publicly funded library?" Ideas at a new level of awareness tumbled into my head. Imagining myself denied entrance to the library, I realized I would not be sitting where I was sitting. In that moment, I understood and internalized justice fused with empathy. Political racism against our president and against minority voters continues to threaten justice at the polls and in turn our democracy. Google both party platforms. Only one relates to present realities and honestly, without code words, states who and what it stands for. That party offers the best hope for America and planet Earth.
FAYE WALTER, Sewanee, Tenn.
The IRS must not be allowed to enforce the Obamacare mandate. It has already proven it can't be trusted to run its own house without partisanship and a lot of taxpayer waste of monies. IRS enforcement is not acceptable; the agency already has been caught red-handed targeting conservative groups. It cannot be allowed to enforce my health care decisions. The IRS cannot be trusted.
TERRY BEAVER SR., Ringgold, Ga.
Will someone please tell me why the Republicans claim a victory over the tea party? The very things the Republicans claim they are for, the tea party acts out in reality and principle, refuses to compromise their sworn oaths and stands firm on the ideals of liberty. Go ahead, Republicans, but cut your own throat. The tea party will survive in spite of wishes from the Ad Council, chambers of commerce and their media outlets. It is a movement which came from the prayers of real Republicans, not Republicans in name only.
JUNE GRIFFIN, Dayton, Tenn.
Americans like to eat on the run. Their work often demands it. We also like to eat healthier nowadays. We like to eat at all different times of the day -- late lunches and even later suppers. More than anything, Americans love to eat out. Cooking at home went out with 8-track tapes and lava lamps. Are we too busy, is eating out just too convenient or are we just too lazy? Same question for voting. It seems about as many people cook every meal at home as vote. The most recent election saw our leaders elected and or nominated from about 10 percent of eligible voters. The winners, the deciders, the ones who call the shots, will do so with about 6 percent of the people behind them. But it doesn't have to be that way. We have the technology to allow people to vote at the fast food joint of your choice, provided they have the little gadget on your table and you have a voter ID number. No more standing in lines or hanging chads. No more excuses about why you aren't registered or didn't have time. Talk about a happy meal!
DAVID CLARK, Tullahoma, Tenn.
If there is one phrase I would use to describe the events of the Aug. 7 Tennessee primary elections, it would be incumbent insanity. I would define this as electing the same representatives over and over and expecting a different result. As someone who pays attention to Tennessee politics, I hear plenty of desire by Tennesseans to make America a place that has a bright future. If we are really so concerned with creating a better future, why do we keep electing the same people? We have the power to make a change, yet we do not. Tennessee has again chosen to point fingers at the rest of the country and place the blame on other voters. Why when given an opportunity to try something new do we elect a senator who clearly does not want to protect our American way of life, our borders, or the Republican party. And the 3rd District chose to elect a representative who has done next to nothing other than spend more federal government money on a local project that is over budget and over due. It is truly upsetting that Tennesseans have chosen the path of incumbent insanity.
I'm appreciative to the voters of Hamilton County for their expression of confidence at the polls. I sincerely believe that the busy citizens who need county clerk services should be treated with courtesy and given assistance as though they could choose a competitor if available ... across the street. My efficient team of deputy clerks shares this attitude. With almighty God's help, this will continue to be my goal as custodian of this important county office.
BILL KNOWLES, County Clerk