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Letters: Readers reflect on suicide and survival

This combination of 2004 and 2016 file photos

This combination of 2004 and 2016 file photos shows fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain. Credit: AP / Bebeto Matthews, Andy Kropa

Newsday reporter Daysi Calavia-Robertson revealed her struggle with suicidal feelings in an essay last week. She touched many of our readers, who continue to respond with stories of their own pain or experiences. The June 15 essay can be found here. Here is a sampling of reactions.


The op-ed by Daysi Calavia-Robertson really inspired me to never give up even when I feel that I can’t handle it.

The piece taught me that I’m not alone, and that with therapy and the right medication, I can live a normal life. I shouldn’t have to suffer, nor should anyone else. My hope is that people realize when they need help, and that the world realizes that mental health is as important as physical health. Through therapy and medication, I can enjoy my life with my wife and my five children.

Thank you for inspiring me.

Asher Elefant, Woodmere

I have to thank Daysi Calavia-Robertson for sharing her story.

At the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we understand the importance of having open and honest discussions about mental health. It saddens me that it takes the death of two high-profile celebrities for people to focus on the issue. Depression, anxiety, mental illness and suicide have steadily risen in the last decade, but they are not topics people like to talk about. Without a doubt, talking about it saves lives.

Understanding how to reach out to someone who is struggling, and understanding how to reach out for help if you are struggling, are topics we cover in our free community trainings ( But for it to be effective, people have to be willing to admit that they need help. They can do so without fear of being judged or negative repercussions.

Ann Morrison, Bay Shore

Editor’s note: The writer is the Long Island area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Daysi Calavia-Robertson showed courage and leadership by sharing her story. If we slow down and take time to listen to family members and friends with compassion and caring, we just might be able to help someone who is silently struggling. I hope Daysi’s op-ed gives courage to others who might not always be heard and whose words tend to be overshadowed in conversation.

Everyone deserves happiness.

Laura Matasavich, Patchogue

It seems every day, cynic that I am, I read world news, political comments and entertainment gossip that lead me to believe that society has forgotten what honest responses sound like. Daysi Calavia-Robertson’s op-ed is one of the most honest, from-the-heart pieces I have read in years. It really moved me, and I hope many others.

Jerry Reilly, Lindenhurst

My husband pushed me to read Daysi Calavia-Robertson’s op-ed.

I, too, struggle with depression and anxiety, and Anthony Bourdain’s death hit me hard. It sent me to a dark place that I haven’t visited in a while.

With her words, Calavia-Robertson beautifully crafted how that place can feel. I thank you. It isn’t easy to be called crazy, unstable or any of those things we are sometimes labeled.

Thank you for living each day, surviving each day. That is not as easy for some as it is for others.

Lina Enoch, Merrick

Daysi Calavia-Robertson’s statement speaks volumes: “Remember, no matter what anybody might say, this is not a weakness.”

Indeed, we need to treat mental illness the same as we treat a physical illness. After the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news release that, “Depression does not discriminate.” But health insurers often discriminate when it comes to providing the coverage for mental health care required by federal law.

It takes courage to ask for help, but finding providers who take your insurance is a challenge. The list of providers is short and waiting lists are often months’ long. Would we stand for this kind of wait for cancer? Certainly not. Nevertheless, many are forced to wait for timely, affordable care for depression, anxiety or similar illnesses.

Andrew Malekoff, Long Beach

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of the North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights.

Thank you, Daysi Calavia-Robertson for your courageous and informative article on mental illness.

Your first-person account of your struggles provides an understanding of this complex and under-addressed disease. Hopefully, your words will lead to a greater understanding and acceptance of the extreme challenges patients face, and encourage others to seek the help they need. It is time for all of us to educate ourselves, advocate for research and give this crippling disease the attention it deserves.

Barbara Wasserman, Massapequa

In the past, I have had episodes of depression, and I have a wonderful and happy life. I was always caught off guard when I had an episode; it could be from an emotional or physical trigger. Thank you to Daysi Calavia-Robertson for her wonderful and heartfelt article.

Susan Fisher, Huntington

I was in a doctor’s office when I saw that Anthony Bourdain died. I mentioned to other patients that I was very sorry. Another patient began commenting that he had no sympathy for those who took their own lives, that they were selfish. I was appalled but kept silent.

I wish he had kept quiet. I have been touched twice by family members who thought the only way out was to leave this life. Only relatives and friends who are left behind to grieve, ask why and bear the most insurmountable pain can know or question suicide.

Judy Erwell, Babylon

Far too many people tragically refrain from seeking support and assistance from medical personnel, therapists and loved ones because of the stigma associated with mental illness.

We must make ourselves available to our friends, loved ones and colleagues.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Queens/Nassau is a grass-roots organization available to people with mental illnesses and to their loved ones. We provide support, advocacy and education through support groups and classes free of charge. Programs and classes are evidence-based, with proven outcomes. Go to or call 516-326-0797.

David Sills, Oceanside

Editor’s note: The writer is a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Queens/Nassau in Lake Success.