Don’t let mental illness become a personal tragedy

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 5, 2004

The tragedy of the former Suffolk school teacher who killed herself this past weekend was compounded by the news that she had first shot her son and daughter. So far, there’s no report of any note left behind that might give even a glimmer of insight to why Sabrina Carawan committed such horrendous acts.

Investigation has shown that Carawan, formerly of John F. Kennedy Middle School, had been enduring – no, suffering – from manic depression, that disorder which features extreme mood swings of exuberance and despair, which can lead to thoughts of suicide.

We beg those of you who may be enduring a similar mental health problem to seek treatment immediately; likewise, if you know of loved ones who are strong candidates for the aforementioned problem, then encourage them to get help.

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Melissa Fetter, emergency services clinician at Western Tidewater Mental Health Services,

said you could ask the person directly and demonstrate your care. Tip-toeing around the issue won’t make the problem disappear. Don’t let your silence be misinterpreted as being unconcerned.

Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Western Tidewater Mental Health Center located just across from the Godwin Courts Building. The address is 157 N. Main St., Suite D, and you may walk in without an appointment and someone will always be available to talk with you. You may also get help after hours by calling 925-2484, and you will reach a licensed, certified emergency services clinician.

Carawan and her children are beyond help, but tragedies like this can be prevented in others when you make the move to seek help.