TODAY'S PAPER
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Opinion

Tragedies remind all to focus on what matters

The brutal deaths of the Parente family of Garden City have riveted Long Island.

It appears that the father of this well-to-do family - an American ideal in many ways - died in fear of financial ruin and humiliation. And yesterday, David Kellermann, an officer of the troubled mortgage agency Freddie Mac, apparently killed himself.

As this fragile economy rocks one life after another, more of us can sympathize with such desperate feelings. William Parente's alleged acts and Kellermann's apparent suicide are distant extremes, no doubt.

But people are losing hope everywhere.

Long Island's mental health hotlines report twice the number of calls as last year. Because of a layoff or loss of health insurance - or some other financial setback - people are giving in to alcohol abuse, panic and depression. Money problems are like water draining from a tub. Difficulties are exposed that were invisible in better times. Divorce and family violence can result.

But that's because when times are hard, so many of us have trouble seeing properly what we should value. Long Island mental health agencies say they are seeing more middle-class people who have been laid off or cut back to half time. Often, they are embarrassed and put off seeking help until they are panicky.

When people turn to violence or end their lives, they give away hope of starting over. But other families in trouble can learn from their examples. We may lose material things, but we must focus on what matters to move past despair. hN

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