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Elderly deserve better

Dear Editor:Reading today’s (March 29) papers, it is grieving to read of yet another suicide. I never met Billy Seawell personally, though I had seen him about town. I empathize with the residents of Aspen Country Inn with all the suffering and problems that they had to endure.But what strikes me most is the pain and despair that this 69-year-old man must have endured in the last days of his life. Reading from the accounts given in the local paper, we know that Billy was not a stellar member of our community nor even the best neighbor (though neither was I in times past), but nevertheless, good or bad, he was a longtime local here since the ’70s.I believe that we as a community failed Billy Seawell when he needed us most. Here we have a 69-year-old man who was facing imminent eviction from his home. To Billy, I can easily see how anger and pain overtook him, leading him to do what he did. I am not condoning what he did, and am certainly not blaming anyone in particular for what could or should have been done to help him. What really hits me is the fact that we would evict a 69-year-old man out into the cold streets of Aspen. Are we that calloused and inhumane?I ask where are the safety nets to help prevent incidents like this? Is this the way we treat our elderly when they can’t afford to pay their rent? True, there will always be some who will abuse and take advantage of the system, but how can we be so cold as to sit idly by while employees of “our” local housing authority give the boot to a 69-year-old (he probably had no family and no one to turn to).Aspen is one of the richest and most educated communities in the nation, and is this how we treat our own? Are we that inoculated and desensitized to our fellow men? And how many more suicides and overdoses must take place here in our community before we begin to take notice, and more importantly, begin to do something about it?You know in the Old Testament, God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel concerning this very thing. “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” As a voice crying out in the wilderness, I am committing myself to make a difference, rather than just being indifferent. Won’t you help make a difference too?Jim TomberlinAspen


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