Story of suicide minimized woman’s life

With regards to the story “Woman’s body found in Walmart parking lot” (Herald, Feb. 7), I am appalled at the tactless way Pamela Beckert’s death was reported. That writing took away her dignity, hurt her family deeply and displayed little consideration for Pamela’s memory.

Her death (and therefore her life) was so minimized and dehumanized by that story, I feel compelled to tell the truth about who she was.

Had I not known Pamela, I might have read that article and dismissed her death as just another overdose by some prescription drug abuser who had no place better to go than the Walmart parking lot.

In reality, Pamela was an incredibly intelligent, beautiful, vivacious woman who suffered from a disorder for which medications were prescribed. The medications list suicide as a “frequent side effect.” She struggled every day to maintain equilibrium and wanted to have what we all want: to belong, to be loved, to matter.

She was funny, witty, loved dogs, ate chocolate, had a deep throaty laugh that came easily, wore pink reading glasses and flip-flops, and grew spaghetti squash and outrageous petunias.

She was a mom, she was fun, she could dance and she had class.

What she didn’t have was proper support for the numerous drugs she was on, especially in light of the fact that suicidal thoughts prevailed upon her. Pamela feared that she would end up homeless, like many mentally ill people do in our culture. When she asked mental-health providers to help her with keeping a roof over her head, she was told, “If you end up without a home, you can live for a while in your Jeep in the Walmart parking lot.”

Shame on the Herald for writing such an ill-informed article about Beckert’s death. Shame on our medical system, which continues to prescribe medications that have such huge potential for harm. And shame on all of us for creating a society where mentally ill people are cared for so poorly.

Goodbye Pamela. We will miss you.

Karen A. Mee


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