When someone you love takes his own life, it leaves a large aching space packed full of questions. I know, because I lost a brother to suicide. He was 51. This is why when I learned of Tod Abrams’ death at the Caron Ocean Drive facility in Delray Beach I thought of his family and all the questions they must have.
I also thought of the neighbors who live near the two facilities in this neighborhood and all the questions they’ve been asking for several years now about the houses next door.
Through our reporting, I learned a little about Tod Abrams and was struck by how well this handsome and accomplished man would have fit into this coastal Delray Beach neighborhood. I also learned a lot about Xanax and its dangers.
These things made me wonder how many others living along the beach are struggling with mental health issues or addiction.
I hoped that by putting a human face on addiction and the growing number of drug-related deaths in our area, we might all be able to find a few answers to our questions.
I didn’t really expect full answers. With addiction treatment and mental illness there is a heavy veil drawn to keep questions out. And with suicide, there are always more questions than answers. But if local media don’t try to lift this veil, who will?
Mental health agencies work diligently to educate the public while struggling to find funding for these efforts. In the meantime, the addiction treatment industry has lagged far behind in opening its doors to help educate the public about what first responders say has become a public health crisis.
I understand why Caron and other treatment facilities work diligently to protect the privacy of their clients. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be doing educational outreach to the community, and yes, even to their neighbors. Why not hold an occasional open house to let the folks next door see the facilities and learn about treatment methods? Why not work with the city to hold a series of educational programs?
The city of Delray Beach is being proactive about educating its residents about drug addiction. It’s time for the drug-rehab industry to step up, pull out the checkbook and pull back the veil to answer questions.
There won’t always be answers, of course, but sometimes healing can begin just by being able to ask the questions.
— Mary Kate Leming,