Editorial: Teenage angst and mental illness

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The news was not good! Apparently, there was another suspected suicide – that of 28-year old Kelvin Parker of Golden Grove.
This tragedy followed closely on the heels of the ‘suspicious death’ of 18-year old Alana Lloyd of Jennings New Extension. Lloyd was found dead in her room by her mother and the initial evidence suggests suicide. She had her whole future ahead of her. Parker, for his part, had his life ahead of him, never mind the fact that he allegedly suffered from mental illness, and reportedly, had recently stopped taking his medication.
We here at Observer media proffer our best to the grieving families and friends of the deceased, and we certainly hope that they will be comforted in the days and months ahead. Of course, we do not wish to encroach on the domain of the men and women of the cloth, but we join our fellow Antiguans and Barbudans, especially those inclined to look to the scriptures for solace, in sharing Revelation 21:4: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Again, not presuming to be an authority on things ecclesiastical, we accept the fact that as long as we are denizens of this terrestrial ball, our lot will be one of sickness, pain and grief. But that does not obviate us from trying to, somehow, make this world a better place, particularly for those who are struggling with the angst of young-adult years as well as those coping with the disease of mental illness.
In that regard, we declare a pox on those who are still as unfeeling and as insensitive enough as to ridicule, stigmatise or ignore those who are afflicted.  After all, “There but for the grace of God go we!” Not to mention the fact that those given to making fun of, or type-casting the mentally-afflicted, are no longer being tolerated in polite company. It is boorish, offensive and totally devoid of what Shakespeare referred to as “the milk of human kindness” so to do. Plus, many of us have watched, sometimes helplessly, as a sweet, beautiful and carefree family member becomes increasingly withdrawn and imprisoned in the dark and tortured world of mental illness.
Meanwhile, as we soberly ponder the final hours of our dearest Alana and Kelvin, two young people who left us way too soon, let us use their untimely passing as an opportunity to begin a conversation on teenage strain and stress – boyfriend/girlfriend issues, bullying, struggling to find oneself and identity in a harsh and unforgiving world, a lack of direction, and conflict with parents. Let us also delve into the issues and challenges inherent in dealing with the terror of the diseased mind, as so vividly portrayed by Vincent Van Gogh in one of his masterpieces, “Scream.” 
As we all know, notwithstanding his enormous talent, Van Gogh descended into madness, struggling with schizophrenia for practically his entire life. Needless to say, Van Gogh’s battle with his affliction was not a pretty picture!
So, where do we go from here? From our vantage point, it would seem logical for the mental health experts to find new and improved ways for dealing with those suffering from depression, mania and other forms of mental illness.
Those professionals need to better determine whether a sufferer will be treated as an out-patient, or will be institutionalised, especially if such a patient poses a danger to himself or to others. And as for teenagers struggling to find answers to the age-old existential questions: “Who am I? Why am I here? What is truth? What is reality?” [Neville Giuseppe], let us be more ‘young-people friendly.’ Let us be ready to offer a word of advice, a word of encouragement, a pat on the back or an expression of love. Let us try to close that generation gap between ourselves and the youth who are so often conflicted, and seeing the world through blurred lenses.
Again, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the Lloyd and Parker families. May you find some measure of solace in knowing that, hopefully, a national conversation on teenage angst and mental illness will result from the life and times of our dearly beloved Alana and Kelvin. 
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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