I am grateful for Steve Cartwright’s moving essay Dec. 30. Cartwright’s piece, “The taboo of suicide” (Page D1), tells the story of his son’s quiet struggle with mental illness. Cartwright’s son, Joel, died at the much-too-young age of 24.

As a young adult myself, I am always extremely saddened to hear about my peers turning to suicide as the way to end suffering. While I’m certainly too young to remember the iconic voice of Archbishop Fulton Sheen on American televisions in the 1950s and 1960s, I’ve become well-acquainted with one of his trademark lines that “life is worth living.” In the suffering and anguish of daily life, it often feels impossible to find a meaning behind suffering.

Too often we hear about a family member, friend or neighbor going through a rough time and do nothing. We should feel compelled and convicted to share Cartwright’s message with them. These words deserve to be in print again: “You are worthy, you are beautiful, and your struggles don’t make you any less of a person. You deserve to live, you deserve to be loved. And listened to. You deserve all the help you can get, and we are here to provide it.”

Mental illness is often misunderstood, and in Maine’s small-town culture it often goes unnoticed or ignored. Cartwright’s emotional reflection on his son’s death should be taken to heart and shared by families and community leaders. “We need to lift the taboo on talking to and listening to people who are feeling that life isn’t worth living,” Cartwright writes. As someone preparing for a lifetime of ministry in Maine, I for one am appreciative for Cartwright’s words and for his son’s life.

Alex R. Boucher

Biddeford