By Elaine Magliaro
Zaz Hollander of Alaska Dispatch News has reported an interesting story about Don Young, a Republican congressman from the Land of the Midnight Sun. Tuesday morning, Young spoke to students at the High School in Wasilla. Hollander said that numerous witnesses claimed that Young, who is known for having a “notoriously abrasive personality,” acted “in a disrespectful and sometimes offensive manner to some students, used profanity and started talking about bull sex when confronted with a question about same-sex marriage.”
Amy Spargo, principal of Wasilla High School, said, “We really spend a lot of time at our school talking about how we treat each other. We just don’t talk to people that way.” Hollander said that what concerned school officials even more was the “hurtful and insensitive statements’ that Young made “about suicide just days after a Wasilla student took his own life.”
After teacher Carla Swick posed a question to Young about Alaska’s high suicide and domestic violence rates and asked what his office is doing about it, “Young started talking about suicide, mentioning the role played by alcohol and depression…” Witnesses said that Young said that suicide showed “a lack of support from friends and family.”
That comment stunned students and staff still mourning the loss of a student who died Thursday, staffers say.
“When I heard ‘a lack of support from family’ and I heard ‘a lack of support from friends,’ I felt the oxygen go out of the room, but I gasped as well,” Spargo said. “It just isn’t true in these situations. It’s just such a hurtful thing to say.”
Both Spargo and Swick say a friend of the victim, moved by emotion, shouted at Young, “He had friends. He had support.”
“The kid said, ‘It’s depression — you know, a mental illness,’ ” Spargo recalled. As she remembers, Young replied, “ ‘Well, what, do you just go to the doctor and get diagnosed with suicide?’ ”
Several school staffers said that the congressman “also used either the words ‘—hole’ or ‘smartass’” at some point during his exchange with the audience.
Hollander said, “Young’s office issued a statement about his conduct Tuesday evening in response to a request from Alaska Dispatch News.”
“Congressman Young was very serious and forthright when discussing the issue of suicide, in part because of the high number of tragedies that affect Alaskan youth. He discussed what he believes are leading causes of youth suicide in our state and shared some suggestions for helping family members and friends who are dealing with suicidal thoughts,” spokesman Matt Shuckerow wrote in an email. “In no way did Congressman Young mean to upset anyone with his well-intentioned message. In light of the tragic events affecting the Wasilla High School community, he should have taken a much more sensitive approach.”
According to Catherine Thompson (TPM Livewire), Young’s “bizarre appearance at Wasilla High School follows another unsettling exchange between Alaska’s only congressman and his challenger, Democrat Forrest Dunbar. Dunbar said earlier this month that Young ‘freaked out’ when he put his hand on the congressman’s arm backstage before a debate and told him ‘Don’t ever touch me. The last guy who touched me ended up on the ground dead.’ Young later said without clarification that the statement had ‘some truth to it.'”
Young rattles Wasilla High students with ‘hurtful’ remark about suicide (Alaska Dispatch News)
GOP Rep. Gives Profane Speech To High Schoolers On Bull Sex And Suicide (TPM Livewire)
Alaska’s high suicide & domestic violence rates might be associated with alcohol use & an Epidemiology bulletin bespeak correlation between higher suicide rates & higher latitudes. The bulletin also notes that Alaska’s suicide rate is nearly twice the national average & the leading cause of death in Alaska for people ages 15 to 24, according to the most recent national data.
To simply blame suicide rates on cold and latitude is just intellectually lazy. If that’s the case then why is Denmark #41 and Trinidad and Tobago #45?
The two lowest on the list Haiti (now there’s a lovely place) and Nepal (try finding that one with out a map).
Alcohol and cold, Russia is 14 but Iceland is 42.
National data only takes into account one country, and that’s just poor sampling data.
Here’s the latest on Rep. Don Young:
Alaska GOP Rep: Gov’t Freebies Cause Suicide
In a bizarre appearance Tuesday at Wasilla High School, Young reportedly offended students and staff when he said, among other things, that suicide is caused by a lack of support from friends and family. The Alaska Dispatch News reported that Young added “government largesse” to the list of factors contributing to suicide when he was asked about those comments Wednesday during a speech at a local senior center.
“When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” Young said, according to audio of his speech provided to the newspaper by his Democratic challenger Forrest Dunbar’s campaign.
He added that suicide comes from the federal government “saying you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing,” according to the Dispatch-News.
I was going to make a smart remark about killing animals and suicide or even sarah of wasilla and suicide but it affects so many more than the one who leaves it just wasn’t funny.
Since when did it become “conservative” to behave as an unhinged lunatic?