Regarding the letter headlined “Youths taking action to prevent suicides” (Page A4, April 24):

As a parent who struggled to find help for a now-grown child, let me make it clear: The stigma and shame came as the result of seeking help, both from professionals and other community resources.

One of the most stinging and unjust rebukes I endured came from a therapist who told me I “lacked empathy” for my child, though they knew of my long search for help.

Clearly, I was paying attention to my son, and suffering on his behalf. The not-so-subtle point I was constantly speared with was this: “If you were a ‘good’ mother, your child would be fine.”

Few wanted to acknowledge that good therapeutic intervention for minors was grossly lacking in Maine. Thus, it was easier to blame the parent than help the child.

My child eventually was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I found a good book with which to educate myself. A detailed profile of characteristics of one type of ADHD described him exactly. The book also included interviews with parents. One statement, repeated over and over: “I never thought being a parent would be so hard.” (Read, “I never thought I would be this alone to help my child.”)

I talked about my child’s problems, loud and clear. It did not make either my child or me feel “less alone,” in the words of the letter. I regret every single therapist I let in my child’s life, for the damage they did, to the pain they exacerbated.

“Awareness” alone isn’t enough. It makes it too easy to find a convenient target to blame, even demonize. It is education and knowledge we need, and there is not nearly enough to go around.

Zoe Gaston

Cape Elizabeth