I was very saddened to read of the suicide of Anie Graham, her life taken in desperation in her first year as a teen. I thought your June 12 article was excellent and covered a lot of the important resources that both teens and their parents can turn to. I do, though, want to mention another resource that can be so important to these kids, and that is Alateen.

It is a sad fact that a lot of teenagers have parents at home who are either alcoholic and this can be one or both parents or addicts using one substance or many, which can include Vicodin, marijuana when used in an addictive way, leaving the parent fairly nonfunctional and, at the worst, heroin.

A child who lives in this environment often, if not every day, comes home to a parent who is totally nonpresent. Maine, as well as having a teen suicide rate that is consistently higher than the national average, is also way up on the list for heavy drinking and death from drug overdose.

I know of many teens who attend Alateen meetings and take advantage of the guidance provided by trained adults called sponsors who lead them through the program unconditionally. I myself was an Alateen sponsor, and I wish I’d had this guidance while I was struggling intensely with my teen years while living with two alcoholic parents.

I also want to mention that in order to help a teenager, a professional does not have to have a doctorate in psychology or be a psychiatrist. Often the first contact is with a competent social worker. I know that I got the most help when I started in counseling with social workers. They do the family tree work, they get to hear the nitty gritty of home life. This is what they are trained for.

Shelley St. Clair

Portland