I appreciate Portland Police Chief James Craig’s call to action regarding Michael Simpson’s tragic suicide. It is indeed heartbreaking when an individual chooses death in such a manner.

My husband made such a tragic choice five years ago, and I can attest that those perhaps most intent on suicide may not make their plans known — to anyone. It is therefore even more incumbent on us, as community members, to find ways to do all that we can to ensure that effective help is easily available.

That is not the case now because of the woefully underfunded mental health system, but there are affordable options that can help individuals get what they need. Services like patient navigators or community health teams have proven to be highly cost-effective avenues to address individual needs.

Until we have a major overhaul in the mental health system, such support services are necessary to help individuals pursue the many avenues (following many dead-ends) required to find an effective mental health counselor and/or medication plan.

How can we expect people who are struggling with severe depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses to have to follow up numerous times with an insurer to receive their benefits? Or to find free or affordable care? To correct insurance company mistakes? To find a counselor with whom they can build an effective therapeutic relationship? To withstand numerous attempts at medications until finding what works?

These things would be hard enough without mental illness. We need to be building a community that helps people help themselves, so that suicide perhaps seems less like the only option to the most tortured among us.

Julie Sullivan

Portland

I lost a great friend last week and the Portland community lost a great person in Michael Simpson.

Mike’s suicide was tragic, especially at 37, but most of all I lost faith in the system that is supposed to help people with depression.

I hope my friend’s tragic suicide will open people’s eyes to a system that is broken but can be fixed. I lost my best friend last week and I wonder if help will be there for me if I ever need it on day.

Steven Phillips

Portland

A little common sense could fix lobster dilemma

Business doesn’t need help from the government, they need connections.

Channel 6 News reported this past Sunday morning that Maine lobstermen need help from the government. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Maine lobstermen or any other small Maine business, but small businesses don’t need a handout — we need connections.

How to solve Maine’s lobster problems?

The members of Maine’s congressional delegation should all contact Walmart and get Walmart to buy Maine lobster. Why? Because our largest U.S. retailer is selling Canadian lobster, not Maine lobster. I can’t believe it, but they are not using Maine lobster.

If we push Walmart to carry Maine lobster, then lobstermen don’t need a handout; they are making money and hopefully paying in to our government and not taking from it. Everyone wins. Remember, an ounce of common sense is worth a four-year college degree any day.

David and Martha Call

Standish

Dangers of too much TV too egregious to ignore

Do you know that the average third-grader has spent about a quarter of their lives watching TV? Do you know what that does? They will get out of shape and have headaches. Watching movies and shows is entertaining, but if you watch it more than you go to school or work, that’s a problem. Please, people, for the sanity of our world, do not spend your lives watching TV! Thanks.

Clare Walsh

Grade 6, Yarmouth

Article on leaf blowers ignored their dangers

I found it concerning after reading Ray Routhier’s article on leaf blowers in the Maine Sunday Telegram that there was no information on the real health hazards of leaf blowers, and I do not just mean the insidious decibel levels of these machines.

I am talking about the fact that these 200-mph bazookas throw out a biohazard buffet (New Yorker, Oct. 25) of diesel soot, brake lining particles, fungi, mold, spores, and animal fecal matter. Those with asthma and other lung diseases can become very sick.

I hope Mr. Routhier will write a follow-up article before we start to “sound” like communities in California that have a tremendous problem because of the concentration of these dangerous machines.

Claudia Hughes

South Portland 

City cares more for dogs than its elderly residents

The Portland Recreation Program sponsored by the city of Portland for Seniors 55 Plus does a fine job.

This program makes it possible for elderly people to have the opportunity to attend various functions. Many of these seniors live alone and do not drive.

There were two vans that were used for transportation of the seniors but recently one was beyond repair, leaving the program with only one.

Portland can afford dog parks and various other programs but can’t afford to replace the second van.

Don’t seniors count anymore?

Alice Leahy

Portland

Dentists for ME effort shows the joy of giving

The recent Dentists for ME program was incredible. I love seeing the community come together for a good cause. I hope the dentists and other volunteers that donated their time have inspired others to pay it forward in whatever capacity they can, and find a way to help others in whatever way they can. I know I donate and volunteer whenever I can, and it’s heartwarming to know that others can enjoy that opportunity also.

Jennifer Anderson

Lebanon