Tuesday, June 27, 2006
New Orleans' suicide rate nearly triples
In the weeks and months since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, many people in the area have told us about their feelings of depression. And we've heard reports of people killing themselves because they couldn't cope with their changed lives.

The stories have been plentiful, but the tales of increased depression have basically all been anecdotal. But now some numbers have been thrown our way.

According to the coroner's office in New Orleans, the city's suicide rate nearly tripled in the months after Katrina. A suicide rate of nine per 100,000 residents jumped to almost 27 per 100,000 residents.

We spent time recently with a very charming, lifelong New Orleans resident named Gina Barbe.

Gina worked in the tourist industry before Katrina, helping to arrange vacation stays for people visiting New Orleans. She told me her life before Katrina was happy; that she was always laughing. But things changed after August 29.

Gina says after the devastation of the hurricane, she lost her job and her medical coverage. Some of her friends died in the hurricane; others committed suicide.

She says the city became dark and dangerous to her. She told me she has frequently thought about killing herself, and that for days at a time, she has not felt like getting out of bed. She thinks she's been profoundly depressed.

The New Orleans police department operates a "crisis unit" that helps people who need to be protected from harming themselves. Sgt. Ben Glaudi, the man who started the unit 24 years ago, says there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of people who need to be helped.

Sgt. Glaudi says Gina's story is unfortunately fairly typical. In fact, he says he himself has been depressed. His house was destroyed in the hurricane, and he and his family now live in a trailer.

Gina has yet to get professional help for her depression. But she says she will. She knows her life may depend on it.
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 4:46 PM ET
  62 Comments
I can certainly understand why the people of New Orleans are feeling suicidal. Their lives have been turned upside down, they are living amid all the death and destruction of their city since Katrina hit, and they must listen to the promises of corrupt politicians at all levels of government.

Who wouldn't have suicidal tendencies living under those conditions?
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 5:05 PM ET
It certainly is understandable that people in New Orleans are depressed after this terrible disaster. They must feel like invisible people. I hope they realize that there are people out there that feel their pain and will continue to support the re-building of their home and city. Please take care of yourselves and don't give up hope.
Posted By Anonymous Nicki F., Calgary, Alberta : 5:08 PM ET
Nice talk about professional help for a person without insurance in a city that has a fractured health system. OK, if she can overcome these roadblocks will chemicals change the situational hopelessness that she finds herself in? Major depression v. situational depression?
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 5:20 PM ET
I feel deeply for these people and their hurt and loss. I will be praying for them as well. Though I also want folks to know that this type of loss can happen to any of us, and that we should examine what is really important in this life...not things or places, or job...but the people around us every day. Be thankful people!! we have it better then we will ever know!
Posted By Anonymous Will, philly, pa : 5:25 PM ET
As a Katrina victim myself, these past ten months, I thought of the feeling of committing suicide. Thank goodness I never had the courage to execute it. But something else overtook me. Although the money is pretty tight on our household right now, I've been going on shopping rampades. I hid in my daily shopping escapades. I felt so lost, so confused, so tired of my surroundings that I just let myself get consumed by material things. I should have learned my lesson right because of Katrina, but I became a shopaholic. I became a notoriously selfish person. I fell into depression. It is hidden from everyone I know, but the clothes that stay stagnant in my closet tells the story. I don't know what to do anymore because it seems like nothing was changing.
If you're not experiencing it, you just don't understand. Each person around here in New Orleans have different stories. As I drive the University of New Orleans everyday to go to school, the damaged houses are still there. It's hard not to notice them when it's just blocks and blocks of abandoned houses. Potholes are another story; I feel like I ride in a rollercoaster everyday. Everyday I think about August 28, 2005, and how beautiful that day was, and I took it for granted. After dozens of English essays on Katrina, the daily reminders like the trailer in front of my house, and my latest addiction, I decided to make a change. I don't want to dig a deeper hole. Katrina might have taken away my things, but she won't take away my willing heart.
I'm just very thankful to Anderson Cooper and CNN for keeping our stories alive. There are still so much to tell. Let's just say Mr. Anderson Cooper inspired me-weren't it for him, I would not have the courage stay out of my comfort zone.
Posted By Anonymous Maria Christina Bucalan, New Orleans, Louisiana : 5:26 PM ET
It's sad that so many people ignore the fact that those who go through natural disasters are highly likely to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have some friends who went lived through a tornado years back and it took them at least a year of battling nightmares, insomnia, severe depression, and anxiety before they felt "normal." Counseling should have been readily available to people after the devastation of Katrina. PTSD is very serious and very frightening.
Posted By Anonymous Rhonda, Chapel Hill, NC : 5:28 PM ET
I am not surprised that the number of people suffering from depression has dramatically increased in New Orleans. When you reflect on how upsetting it was just to watch the coverage and see the devastation, it is hard to imagine how hard it must be for those who actually went through it. Add to that the fact that all these months later, so little has changed. My heart went out to Gina when you told her story. The waves of pain and hopelessness must be overpowering. I hope things work out for her and she feels like herself again. My thoughts and prayers are with her.

Thank you Gary for sharing this with us and thank you Anderson for going back to New Orleans and keeping these stories alive; we must not forget.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 5:28 PM ET
WE COULD NOT RETURN TO BILOXI DUE TO MY WIFE'S MEDICAL CONDITION. SO I LOST MY JOB, MY INSURANCE AND THE PLACE WHERE WE LIVED. MY WIFE OF 45 YEARS DIED MAR 15, 2006. KATRINA TOOK ALMOST EVERYTHING I CARED ABOUT. FEMA GAVE A PLACE TO LIVE, BUT WHERE DID ALL THE OTHER HELP GO?
Posted By Anonymous JAMES TALLULAH,LA : 5:29 PM ET
I teared up when Gina's story was being aired. I do hope her and others who are depressed get the medical help they need. Depression can lead to suicide. As we all know so well from reading Anderson's book (and perhaps real-life experience), suicides leave behind hurt loved ones and lots of unanswered questions.
Posted By Anonymous Genevieve M, El Paso, TX : 5:31 PM ET
Depression is a dangerous condition and should be treated like any other medical illness. The government should recognize this as part of the problem they need to be helping with. Just as the damage done to the city was not merely cosmetic but infrastrucural, the hurricaine's effects have thrown many citizen's inner workings off and this needs to be remedied. I hope that Gina and other citizens get help before that number climbs even more.
Posted By Anonymous Molly, New York, NY : 5:40 PM ET
I cannot imagine what the citizens of New Orleans are going through - no one can! Feeling depressed is understandable and should be expected. Their home, their city, their way of life has been destroyed! The city will take a long time to come around - in some areas maybe never. How much longer will it take?
Posted By Anonymous S. LeBlanc, Dallas, TX : 5:42 PM ET
What are the odds that Mayor Ray Nagin will address this in his "100 Day Plan"?

Disgraceful - the state of the city 10 months later.

I appreciate that CNN continues to work for NOLA and let us know that residents still need various kinds of support.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Kansas City, MO : 5:58 PM ET
How absolutely devasting it must be for alot of people like Gina and others whose stories we don't hear about. No one could ever know the extent of their depression unless they've been through such adversity. My prayers for strength are with them.
Posted By Anonymous Luz , Torrance, California : 5:59 PM ET
I think I would probably give up hope, too, if my whole world turned upside down without any sign of help from the places I thought I could count on the most in a catastrophic event--like my insurance company and my government. The runaround that the Katrina victims have gone through is unconscionable. I have nothing but respect for those who have survived the last year and still have hope for the future.
Posted By Anonymous Cathy, Minneapolis, Minnesota : 6:07 PM ET
After reading Doug Brinkley's book (The Great Deluge)about Katrina, this sad statistic is not surprising.

After reading Al Gore's book and seeing his moive (An Inconvient Truth), if we don't do something NOW about cimate change, we can expect more sad statistics like this one.
Posted By Anonymous DSwanson, Houston TX : 6:08 PM ET
Social blindness has been our countrys responce for to many years now. It's time for a gulfcoast administrator to make assistance a priority not a horseshoe hotel. Those who built lives here derserve respect not adbandonment
Posted By Anonymous Dave Winfield Quincy, Il : 6:16 PM ET
This is terribly sad, and I sympathize completely with those who have lost, but I have no idea what they are feeling; thankfully not having gone through a similar situation. If it was my misfortune to have part in thier losses, I could see myself being a little less than okay, in fact I too would feel ripped apart if my life had been.
I guess it is to be expected, but that doesn't make it any less horrible. This just stresses all the more reason the reconstruction of these peoples homes and lives should be restored all the quicker.
Posted By Anonymous Christina Reynolds Yonkers, NY : 6:28 PM ET
Every day in New Orleans life seems so strange, so detached from the rest of the world. We are Americans? It feels like that is only a word. It is comforting to me to read the good wishes of others around the country and world. Thank you. The depression is palpable. Everyone I know is going through it. Every one. It is a bizarre and unimaginable life here. The effects of this man-made disaster is like a mushroom cloud that seems to get wider every day, every week. Many days I ask myself how will I get through this. The end of the tunnel is still so far away. Please don't let the government leaders forget us. We will need help for a long time to come.
Posted By Anonymous Marie, New Orleans, LA : 7:47 PM ET
Is there enough help in their "crisis unit?" Perhaps doctors from the across the nation can volunteer services. I know this is short term, and the real "fix" is to help Gina and others get their lives back. The sad reality is that won't happen as quickly as we all want it to, and much of it, the lost loved ones will never be gotten back. This has to be addressed seperately from the red-tape issues of the city. This is an immediate need.

The storm robbed people of their families, their jobs, homes, lives... the depression that follows can easily rob them of their state of mind and ultimately their lives.

It is not always just the ones vocalizing it who attempt it. Too many times the victims keep it to themselves until it is too late. We must plead to the doctors of nation to send help. Is this Sgt. Ben Glaudi the person they would need to contact? I'll do my part to ask local doctors to help....
Posted By Anonymous J. Perkins, Fair Play, SC : 7:56 PM ET
As a survivor of Hurricane Andrew I can understand the feeling of having your life turned upside down. People from our neighborhood (Bayou Vista, La.) still refer to life events as "before the hurricane" and "after the hurricane". Our thoughts and prayers remain in the Big Easy.
Posted By Anonymous Jason, Anchorage, Alaska : 8:18 PM ET
It is sad, but it is only one event that took place almost a year ago. I think of the people in other countries like Iraq who have endured many years of violence and terrorism yet you still see children with smiles. Same with people who have been starving for years in Africa who have been eating termites because there is no food and their cattle are dying...talk about having it rough yet you don't hear about them giving up. Americans need to quit being so spoiled. We live in the land of opportunity so dust yourself off and rebuild because other people have it much worse so we have NOTHING to complain about.
Posted By Anonymous Missy, Los Angeles, 90020 : 8:19 PM ET
Katrina was a truly life changing event. I wasn't the only one who was depressed. I know my mom is very depressed- I can see it in her eyes. She won't tell me, but I notice a difference in her; she's angrier,secluded, sad. It has taken a real toll on my closest friends and families.
My grades at school started to fail after Katrina. I can't seem to concentrate on anything. I make excuses for staying home; I tell my friends, "Well, I'm really tired. Well, I'm sick." On my previous blog, I said I started to become an avid shopper-literally.
But you know what? I can't have the Katrina fatigue forever. I moved on. I'm making progress. After an 'inspiring' event that happened to me these past two days, I decided to change for the better. I won't shop anymore for things that are not a necessity. I'll reach for better grades the way it was before. I am optimistic. I don't want to stay dormant. Just like how many generous people helped us here, I would like to return that thanks back. I've decided to reach out to the people of Philippines, Africa, and here in New Orleans.
I just feel so selfish that it took a hurricane for me to change.
Either I live my life satisfying my wants or serve the needs of others. I choose the second one. Wants and needs, what a world of difference!
Posted By Anonymous Maria Christina Bucalan, New Orleans, Louisiana : 9:22 PM ET
Hi Gary,
I hope the people of the Gulf Coast will realize that there are many of us throughout America who have not forgotten about them..Thanks to you Gary,Susan,Randi,Sean,and any other reporter I've forgotten..You are the ones that keep the stories coming so we don't forget..Thank you. You guys should do a live Town Hall Meeting..With ways we can help the most...Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 9:47 PM ET
I live in this Katrina world in Slidell, Louisiana. Everyday I drive to New Orleans and see and live in this devastation which is no better than it was three weeks after Katrina. The only difference is the water is gone. I know so many people that have died, by just giving up. It is now 10 months and it still is not getting any better. I for one was born and raised in New Orleans and will work my hardest to make this the best city ever. Do not give up on us America because we will not give up on this great and wonderful American treasure...New Orleans....It is just a matter of time before the fruits of our labor will allow Laissez Bon Temps Rouler in the city of New Orleans....
Posted By Anonymous Kathie Jacobs, Slidell, Louisiana : 10:52 PM ET
I have been in New Orleans this week for the American Library Association conference and have had the opportunity to hear many, many stories from local people about their lives since the storm. It is truly overwhelming. As a former Baton Rouge resident and frequent visitor to New Orleans, I can say with confidence that things are still very much broken here. I sat in my hotel lobby this afternoon overhearing the desk attendent on the phone with someone she had not spoken to since before the storm. She was running down the list of who is here, who has moved, and who is dead.

I love this city with all my heart, and if faith can fix it, I know that the people of New Orleans will do it, but we must not forget. For many people, Katrina is still happening.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer Maede, Knoxville, TN : 11:07 PM ET
I cannot imagine what these people are going through. I only wish that I could help-but I feel so far away. If I had the money myself I would be down there doing all that I could. I love New Orleans. I have visited numerous times and want to go back soon. Please know that there is someone rooting for you New Orleans! I know this is a dark time, but anything is possible. Keep the faith. As long as we have strong reporters like Anderson Cooper out there who are willing to show what the true conditions of New Orleans are, hopefully the right people will step up and help.
Posted By Anonymous Krista, Cincinnati, Ohio : 11:11 PM ET
As a current resident of the Westbank of New Orleans, I would like to respond to the crisis of depression on the people of this area. Although my family came through this tragedy in much better shape than the folks across the Mississippi River, and surrounding parishes, all of us have suffered to some degree. Part of the problem with so many people being depressed, is not just losing everything they have worked for all their lives, and even beloved family members. If that wasn't enough, we are all bombarded with nothing but depressing news on tv, newspapers and radio every waking minute of every day for the last 10 months. There is no getting away from it. I have had to reduce the amount of exposure to this news as much as I can because I cannot deal with it. If I had gone through what some of these folks have had to endure, and still had to relive the after effects of this hurricane every moment of my life, I'm sure I would have lost my mind. This city is in such a quagmire of political muck, I don't know how it's leaders will ever be able to unify and fix the serious problems we face. It is truly a disgrace. Our local government spends so much time researching,analyzing,and bickering about what should be done, that not much gets done. For every good plan, there is someone who will rip it to death. Ten months after the storm, we should not have flooded cars and debris on our streets, areas without utilities, and people who can't come home to live and work. Don't get me wrong, I think most people have their hearts in the right place, and want this city to recover, but someone has to take a leadership role, and make recovery happen now. Sometimes,it makes me embarassed and ashamed to say I live here. The good,hard-working people of this city deserve much better. If I had to endure what most people in this city have; not from the hurricane,that was natures' cruel blow, but the negligence of the Army Corps of Engineers with the levee failures, Fema's incompetancy, insurance companies either paying ridiculous settlement payments (or with-holding payments altogether),looting,etc., I would be screaming from the rooftops about the injustice of it all. I've watched how the people of this city have been portrayed in the media,and some of it is justified. But, I want everyone to know, that not all people in this city are corrupt,orlazy,or living off the government. Good people, black, white, and all colors in between, have lived and WORKED here all their lives, raised good kids, and been productive members of society. We have volunteered when needed, paid our taxes,helped our neighbors, and remain good law abiding citizens. We deserve better. Not only from our State, Local, and Federal Government, but also from the media. They only want to show the negative things that happen here, and rarely show the compassion, love for our neighbors, and help for each other that only comes from the heart. We all have cried along with the people of our city, and deeply felt it's pain and suffering. My advice to anyone who is living with depression from these devastating circumstances, is to be thankful you are still alive, remember the blessings that you do have, tune out negative influences, surround yourselves with loving family and friends, and try to bring some form of normalcy to your life by being productive. You will sleep better, feel better, and will build up the resolve to move forward and rebuild your life.
Posted By Anonymous Paula Falterman, Marrero, LA : 11:19 PM ET
Katrina was a disaster, no doubt. Getting through such a distaster requires neighbors taking care of neighbors and people taking care of themselves and each other. Don't blame the government, and don't feel sorry for yourself; do something for yourself and others
Posted By Anonymous Dan, Des Moines, Iowa : 11:21 PM ET
I feel deeply for the Katrina victims. I would however like to point out that many millions throughout the world live in such devastation their entire lives. Let us all become more mindful of those less fortunate than us--whoever they are--and see what we can do to help. Life is not about, "Me, me," or "Woe is me," but rather, "How can I help YOU." When we take our eyes off self, and help others, we again have purpose, and often realize we are blessed.
Posted By Anonymous T Jacobsohn, Shanghai, China : 11:31 PM ET
Two very important points were included in the CNN posting. First is that Rita's situation is typical and second, Sgt. Glaudi tells of his own battle with depression. If I recall correctly, the local TV news included a story on the high suicide rate for professionals (doctors & lawyers) following Katrina. The thing about Katrina is no one in the area has really escaped being affected. In the overtly tragic cases, friends or family lost lives, homes are gone, jobs are lost. In the best cases, the house is fine and the job remains, but is everything back to normal - no way. The area is islands of recovery in a sea of destruction and everything has changed. Coming home to the way it used to be is impossible and for many who would like that, the impact of Katrina may never leave.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Falls Church VA : 12:59 AM ET
I can relate to the heartache and despair my fellow New Orleanians are living with each day. Since the event my life has been an emotional roller coaster that will not stop. The storm caused substantial damage to my Lakeview home, automobile, and a lifetime of belongings that cannot be replaced. Though I endured extensive personal loss I came away feeling very fortunate and blessed. My family did not suffer during the event or immediate aftermath, I have a job, and I found a place to live in the uptown area of the city. Over the last ten months a feeling of eeriness and depression has set in this town. In my opinion, the reason is because our most important treasure has been damaged. That treasure is our way of life. The pioneers living here are willing to fight for this treasure in conditions that can only be described as inhuman and intolerable. In addition we are all are dealing with extreme adversity in our personal lives. For me it�s displaced family members and friends that are sadly missed. It�s dealing with the loss of a friend that committed suicide three days after Jazz Fest weekend. He never recovered from the event. It�s dealing with the loss of my neighbor who drowned in the flood. The image of her daughter cleaning out their gutters as we were evacuating will forever be etched in my mind. The miles and miles of blighted homes we drive by each day. For all the heartache and despair there have been some incredible and uplifting moments that will forever be cherished. The volunteers that have come in to help us have been angels sent from above. They have played a vital role in rebuilding our city. The big events such as Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest showed the world the human spirit of New Orleanians. When all is said and done this generation of New Orleanians will have played a major role in restoring this precious gem. I can only hope that future New Orleanians remember the sacrifices made today that will enable this important treasure to be passed on for future generations to enjoy.
Posted By Anonymous Louie Bonnecarre, New Orleans, La. : 1:38 AM ET
Years ago my family and I couldn't afford college or university, so I had to make the most of a brief course in the hopes that it would be enough to get me a job. After months of unemployment, I felt really down - not clinically depressed, but my self-esteem was pretty much gone. I told my father that I could understand why some people committed suicide after years of unemployment. Suicide was not something that I was considering, nor was I being melodramatic. I was just voicing an insight that was new to me.

The point is that if unemployment is enough to cause some people to feel worthless or lose hope and end their lives, then losing everything: your loved ones, home, job, an entire way of life would obviously send many people over the edge. Maybe I'm placing too much responsibility on the various authorities, but this is perhaps another tragedy that should have been foreseen yet wasn't planned for.

Among the organisations that are helping along the Gulf Coast, are there any who are arranging regular fun activities to try to give people a break from thinking about the devastation? How about job training that relates to relevant construction and cleanup operations?

People need to keep busy and have a sense of purpose. If residents are given encouragement (not to mention counselling, adequate shelter, a consistent show of support from the rest of the country) and opportunities to help rebuild the region (especially if jobs are still scarce), they'll feel like they have more of a stake in their future and because employment is often a large part of one's identity ("So what do you do?"), that sense of purpose might give meaning and confidence back to people. Hopefully it will help them to continue hanging in there until the Gulf Coast sees better days.
Posted By Anonymous Nikky, London, UK : 6:14 AM ET
It is truly heartbreaking to think that even if you make it physically through this tradgedy, there are so many that have these emotional traumas that are really SO Hard to deal with and the prognosis is grim for this woman and many others. I hope and pray she does go for help, but realistically depression is the worst of all disorders to deal with and takes SO long to even start healing from. This said, it is not impossible but she does desperatley need professional help to deal with it. I hope and pray she and the many others suffering will get that help.
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Whitby, Ont. Canada : 8:11 AM ET
As terrible as this is, this is just another piece of evidence of how the citizens of the U.S. are becoming so dependent on the government(s) when their life goes into shambles. People need to be more prepared for any crisis and need to learn how to deal with their emotions when the roof caves in. I feel for the individuals who have lost everything; however, I also believe you must want to survive and with that you must plan in advance for the 'what if'.
Posted By Anonymous FB, Del Rio, Texas : 8:20 AM ET
This does not surprise me at all. I suffer from depression on a daily basis anyway and Katrina sent me in to a black hole it was hard for me to climb out of. I don't live in New Orleans but I did live in that area for years and Katrina was a devastation to me emotionally. I can't begin to imagine the toll on the people who were actually living there.
Even now, after all these months, New Orleans, Katrina, and the suffering are seldom far from my mind.
Posted By Anonymous j.w. Shreveport, La : 8:32 AM ET
I just thought I'd write to Gina and Sgt. Glaudi of New Orleans to let them know I care what happens to them, please tell them that I am praying for both of them for courage. Dear friends life is worth living, make a new life for yourselves, start new traditions, think of your future generations to come & show them with courage what you have overcome, just like the first Immigrants that arrived in your beautiful America. Please know that I care very much about both of you & your families.
Posted By Anonymous Mariette, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada : 8:55 AM ET
i know how these people feel. i was living in pearl river a happy and content housewife. now i live in a town called steubenville,oh. it is dirty and full of drugs. i am now also responsable for my sister-in-law who is disabled. i went from just me and my husband to being the one who has to take care of not just her but her and her two grown kids and there faimlies who think it should be our job. so yes i am very understanding to those people.
Posted By Anonymous constance kersey, steubenville,oh : 9:39 AM ET
The state and federal gov't needs to step up and offer free or reduced medical coverage so New Orleans residents can seek treatment for depression. The drug companies need to get involved and offer free samples of prescriptions. A catastrophe happened and the gov't needs to handle the long-lasting aftermath, not just the immediate.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Nashua NH : 9:55 AM ET
I was involved with the crisis response after Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Miami-Dade County in 1992. The suicide rate in Miami actually went down after this storm. The reason for that was the massive effort to assist people with the psychological trauma of the hurricane. There were teams of mental health workers who went door to door helping find depressed survivors and linking them with services, without cost.
The second crucial factor in reducing suicide risk was that there was a feeling of hope. It is not seeing any "light at the end of the tunnel" which leads to suicide. There was never any talk of not rebuilding Dade County, just how long it would take. For New Orleans to recover it will take visible signs of progress with a vision of a hopeful future. I pray they can do it.
Posted By Anonymous Nelson, Miami, Florida : 9:59 AM ET
WOW, James in Tallulah, what a cry for help. Hope someone who knows him can respond. On the stress-o-meter of loss he seems to have hit the jack pot. The inaction on the Gulf Coast is still claiming victims.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 10:43 AM ET
Thank you for getting this story out there. Unfortunately, it's very easy to forget... expecially if it didn't affect you personally. My heart aches for anyone going through a disaster like Katrina. It's no wonder the victims are depressed!

I sure hope that relatives, friends, or neighbors keep their eyes and ears open for suicidal signs and get their loved ones the help they need.
Posted By Anonymous Christine Weightman, Toms River, NJ : 10:54 AM ET
So sad we live in a society that addresses this devastating catastrophe by finger pointing. I can't imagine what the people of New Orleans have gone through. My prayers are with you.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Syracuse, IN. : 11:06 AM ET
My heart breaks for our fellow Americans who are suffering in the world's richest and most powerful country. Our Congress is so willing to approve Billions and Billions of our dollars on Iraq, but leave its own people behind. The devastation of Katrina may have begun on August 28, 2005, but it most certainly did not end on that day. Something as horrific and devastating will haunt people's lives for years to come and we as fellow Americans and fellow human beings shouldn't ignore that or forget that.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills : 11:09 AM ET
I'm a clinical social worker in New Orleans who works with the chronically mentally ill. There are less than a third of the pre-Katrina agencies that provide these services, and I can verify that things here are not for the faint of heart. Every day I'm grateful for Anderson Cooper for not letting us be forgotten.
Posted By Anonymous Pamela, New Orleans, LA : 11:27 AM ET
So tragic. So unnecessary. Where's the national outrage at this god forsaken disaster of a president! Why don't we have national health care! This administration's priorities are so misguided! There is no reason that New Orleans folks who need it should not have medical care--and that absolutely means mental health care too--as well as government housing and food. You know housing and property developers are going to figure out some way to make big bucks off the back of this disaster and there's going to be, and no doubt, already is, massive graft and pofiteering. Shame on Washington while the bombs drop on Iraq! Mr Bush and co. should have to live in New Orleans until the job is done!
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Sausalilto, CA : 11:31 AM ET
I will constantly keep the people of New Orleans and all the Gulf Coast victims in my prayers and offer help as I can, as a young person. Just know that many people around the country, fellow Americans, an extended family of sorts, care about you. I know the situations are difficult, but as a nation together we will prevail. Im confident of that. Stay strong! Philly loves New Orleans! I offer this very short article, written by a Greek Orthodox priest:


COMFORTING SILENCE
REV. ANDREW DEMOTSES

All of us have known moments during which close kin or wonderful friends have suffered a grievous loss. Our instinct is to go to them, to comfort them during this time of pain. Many times, however, we hold back that love and comfort that we want to offer, because we are afraid that we can't express our feelings in the appropriate way. Unsure of finding the right words, we stay away.

Once during Queen Victoria's long reign, she learned that a common laborer and his wife had lost their baby. Having felt deep sorrow herself, she decided to personally express her sympathy, and called on the bereaved mother one day and spent some time with her. After the queen had left, neighbors asked what she had said. "Nothing," replied the grieving mother. "She just put her hand on mine, and we wept together."

In the Book of Job we read that Job's three friends came to"mourn with him, and to comfort him" in the time of his affliction. (2:11). Although they wept with him, they were able to recognize that the depth of his suffering was so overwhelming that words seemed not only inadequate, but also entirely inappropriate. The Bible says that "no one spoke a word to him for they saw that his grief was very great." (2:13). Their silent empathy and compassionate presence was the best comfort that they could give.

Some years ago, my mother passed away after a long illness. I deeply appreciated the many friends and parishioners who prayed for me and encouraged me by their many acts of love and kindness. But I must confess to you that the people who comforted me most were those who shared my loss and expressed their love by gripping my hand, or offering a warm embrace and compassionate glance. They did not have to say much, but their mere presence and concern spoke to me with an unforgettable eloquence.

We all need to remember that sorrow and loss are a part of this life. Someone, therefore, will always be in need of our comfort. If we really care for people who are in trouble, we only need a warm handclasp or an embrace of loving compassion to beautifully express our upholding concern and Christian love.
Posted By Anonymous Dino Koutroubas, Philadelphia, PA : 11:44 AM ET
My heart goes out to the people of the gulf coast who were affected by Katrina. Their depression is certainly understandable. There is so much talk about healing the cities, but what about healing the people? Where are the grief counselors? These people lost almost everything and they need help dealing with that loss. Ray Nagin should be ashamed his city is still in the condition it's in. No one expected a miracle recovery, but we sure expected more than this.
Posted By Anonymous Melina - Mesa, AZ : 12:01 PM ET
As the 2006 hurricane season gets underway, it is more important than ever that citizens be made aware that help is available for anyone who is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis. People who are still struggling to rebuild their lives from past hurricanes and those who may be in the path of future hurricanes need to know that they can call the federally-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time of the day or night from anywhere in the country to talk to a trained crisis worker. As your article and reader comments point out, mental health needs in some areas are at unprecedented levels and limited resources are available to meet those needs. It is vital that we raise awareness of the Lifeline, which was promoted by the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services as the national number to call for hurricane survivors in distress, and is also the number being prominently promoted by Louisiana's state mental health office for supporting survivors.
Posted By Anonymous John Draper, Ph.D., National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, New York City : 12:14 PM ET
The high suicide rate is not surprising--it's 9/11 all over again.

Maria Christina Bucalan: You are an inspiration.
My heart goes out to you. Please keep going, pushing forward. Things will get better for you because you have adopted the right attitude.
It's so hard for us to admit our human faults and flaws so I thank you for sharing your story. You have left an impression on me.
Posted By Anonymous Sheri Short Toronto, Ont. Canada : 12:27 PM ET
if this nation were truly interested in it's people, masses would be trained in life's necessities such as meidcal care, environmental health, construction, etc., and the various apsects thereof. but the nation's leaders are filled with greed and dummying down the population so they and other powers that are can deprive and take advantage of the American people.

i'm not surprised at the suicide rate in NOLA. due to a different type of calamity/racism, suicide is also up for Black Americans.
Posted By Anonymous Judalon Harris, Columbus, OH : 12:27 PM ET
I just spent the weekend in New Orleans attending the American Library Association (ALA) convention. In my opinion, New Orleans did a good job. The residents of New Orleans were happy to be back to work and glad to have tourism returning. Yet, you could sense the worry underneath that once ALA left would other tourists fill the void. Yes the people of New Orleans are depressed after the last ten months, and New Orleans still has rebuilding to do. But in my opinion, the best remedy for New Orleans' depression is for the tourist to return.
Posted By Anonymous Bruce, Tampa, FL : 12:31 PM ET
I understand where these numbers come from. I live in Jefferson Parish and although our damage was minimal compared to most people in the area, every one has been effected. Everyone in the region depends on New Orleans in one way or another. I work downtown and sometimes when I look out my office window the feeling of despare is overwhelming. We walked a few blocks down Canal St. the other day and it looks awful. There are buildings that haven't been touched since the storm, now there are shells of buildings from fires. People forget that everyone who lives in New Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, the Mississippi Gulf Cost, Lake Charles, Cameron Parish, & all of the others we live with what happened every day. Even if you didn't lose your house, you know someone who did, or maybe you lost your job, or someone close to you moved away. We have to go on every day with the overwhelming reality that nothing we have ever known will be the same ever again.
Posted By Anonymous Niki, Marrero, LA : 12:31 PM ET
I moved to New Orleans from Pensacola soon after Camille hit, so that part of the coast has always been in some story of mine, but after my family had to endure Ivan, Dennis and then with clenched teeth watch with our friends as our beloved NOLA was wrecked, WRECKED almost as if it was murdered, along with the souls that went with her.......I don't know. I could never have dreamed of this.Gina, we are all here with you.
I cried for weeks, and had to double my zoloft.
Posted By Anonymous Jill Wiscombe, Atlanta, Ga. : 12:32 PM ET
I have nothing but sympathy for the victims of the this tragedy, but nothing is worth ending your life. Tell them to wake up every morning and thank the good Lord they don't live in Darfur, or any other 3rd world country. Yes, their lives have been turned upside down, but they have food to eat, shelter from the elements, and the protection of their basic human rights. Many millions do not.
Posted By Anonymous April Mpls, MN : 12:33 PM ET
I just returned after five days in New Orleans at the ALA convention. The trip couldnt have been more perfect. The hotel, convention center, local citizens and resturants were all amazing and grateful for me to be in their city. I made it a point to constantly thank everyone each day for making my trip so enjoyable. To the citizens of New Orleans, hang in there and the good times are going to return and life will be happy again. It will never be the same. You have much to be proud of in the current revitalization of your city.
Posted By Anonymous Sandra Sanderson Tarboro, NC : 12:36 PM ET
Once again people seem to think this only happened in New Orleans. Get out a map, find Mississippi, and see where the most catastrophic damage took place. Cleremont Harbor, Bay St Louis, Waveland, Pass Christian, Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, D'Iberville, Diamondhead, I apologize for not mentioning every town as there are too many to mention. THE WORST DAMAGE WAS NOT IN NEW ORLEANS PEOPLE. GET IT?
Posted By Anonymous jen MISSISSIPPI : 12:55 PM ET
Less lip service and more work is needed......
Posted By Anonymous Arthur ..Fayetteville ,NC : 3:09 PM ET
I agree with Jen from Mississippi. I have friends and family in New Orleans and family on the coast in Mississippi. Some people lost a little & some people lost alot but I am sick of hearing only about New Orleans. There are people along the Miss. coast that were left with NOTHING, not even a picture after the storm.
I went back several months after the storms and there is a big difference between the 2 states. The biggest one is Mississippi is moving on, they pulled together and started cleaning their state up. A large number of those in New Orleans haven't even bothered to go back to clean up, Why? Because they didn't pay for what they had to begin with so they just moved to the next place and sat back & waited on the government (the one they haven't had a nice thing to say about yet) to GIVE them housing, food, clothes, etc...
The people along the coast in Mississippi had nice homes, not the kind the government gives you. They had worked for what they had & they got back as soon as they could to salvage what they could and started rebuilding their life.
I know there were alot of people in New Orleans that paid their way and worked for what they had also, but I can assure you, those people are not the ones living off the government, nor or they the ones that the mayor of New Orleans sent a bus to drive them back to New Orleans for the election. My heart goes out to EVERYBODY that lost anything in the hurricanes, but come on, New Orleans has had the limelight long enough. If you are going to talk about the Hurricane then include Mississippi in the conversation. Its time for the government to let people start paying their own way, you want to vote in New Orleans but live in Texas? Buy a car, borrow a car or vote via Absentee voting. You want free housing?? Get a cardboard box.
Posted By Anonymous Donna , Houston TX : 3:44 PM ET
Can we let these "Katrina" stories slow down now? It's alittle overkill. There was a storm, the local government failed, the local people failed. End of story.
Posted By Anonymous sabrina San Francisco : 9:57 AM ET
And why does the nanny state feel the need to babysit people? Individual liberty requires individual responsibility.
Posted By Anonymous John, Middletown, IN : 10:20 AM ET
You are in our daily prayers.
Posted By Anonymous Rev. Sharon Collins, Georgia : 10:35 AM ET
This is in response to Sabrina of San Francisco. These stories need to be told because some assume that now that the storm is gone, the devastation is gone. The lesson here is not send out negativity but to spread hope...This can happen to you...these same stories may help you deal with a similar situation.
Posted By Anonymous Bridgette Brooklyn, New York : 7:20 PM ET
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