In response to "Grassley: AIG Executives Should Quit or 'Commit Suicide' " (March 17): Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley's suggestion that committing suicide would be an appropriate way for AIG executives to take responsibility for the collapse of their corporation was an irresponsible and disturbing manipulation of a serious public health concern.
We cannot ignore the flippancy with which Mr. Grassley's statements presented suicide to the media. Though understandings of suicide may vary among the United States and Japan, his proposal for the fate of AIG executives blurred the lines between these variations and glorified and oversimplified suicide across the board. Suggesting that it is a method of atonement is to suggest that there is a circumstance under which it is deserved and expected. As an organization that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide safety and support for those who are suicidal, we cannot accept Mr. Grassley's statements about suicide.
With awareness of its signs and the complex, often frightening, circumstances that lead to it, suicide is preventable. We must talk openly and frequently about suicide and encourage anyone who is suicidal or in emotional distress, including AIG executives, to seek help.
At CONTACT Pittsburgh, our crisis line specialists respond to calls from people of all ages who are suicidal or in emotional distress. We conduct the applied suicide intervention skills training to enable our crisis line specialists and community members to prevent suicide in their homes and workplaces. Our hot line can be reached at 412-820-HELP (4357).