THE PAIN: 77 Young Men and Women in Our Communities Have Died Since Rosh Hashanah

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By Zvi Gluck

If I thought things couldn’t have gotten any worse after dealing with the death of a promising 22-year-old young man on Wednesday, I was wrong.

Because Thursday brought with it more grief – an 18 year-old boy dead of an overdose.

I wish I could post the pictures of the 77 young men and women who have died since Rosh Hashanah. When we hear stories like these, we automatically think of wild-eyed individuals with unkempt hair, the kind of person that when he gets on the subway, you think silently to yourself, “Please don’t sit next to me.”

But that’s not who we are talking about. We are discussing beautiful young people with promising futures that will never be realized because they are tormented by unseen demons that bring with them catastrophic, irreversible results.

I wish you could see their faces. All 77 of them.

When I started keeping track of the number of lives lost, I was hoping it would bring awareness. And it has, to some extent. People are starting to wake up and to appreciate the enormity of this problem. But then there are the others.The ones who tell me that I have no business discussing sexual abuse, mental illness and addiction in the Jewish community.

Really? Should we continue sweeping these problems under the rug and pretending they don’t exist? Should we just shake our heads sadly and go on living our lives as if nothing has happened? When are we going to wake up and realize that this problem is real and isn’t going to go away unless we face it head on?

If I sound angry, it is probably because I am. I am just the messenger here and if people want to criticize me and get mad at me, that is totally fine. But let me tell you something. We are currently holding at two deaths a week for the last ten months. How many people in our community have to die before we finally decide to do something?

This isn’t a problem that is going to be solved overnight. This is a war that has to be fought one battle at a time and we can only turn the tide if we open our eyes to those around us.

If you see someone suffering, be it from sexual abuse, mental illness, addiction, or anything else that seems off, DO SOMETHING. Reach out to them, find them someone to talk to or try to get them professional help. The resources are out there but someone has to take that first step. Don’t assume that things will work out on their own because in cases like this, they rarely do.

Each one of us has to do our part and if we stand strong and look out for each other, maybe we can stop this deadly epidemic. Open your eyes and open your heart. And who knows? Maybe the life you save will be that of someone you love.

Zvi Gluck is the director of Amudim Community Resources, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 15 years. For more information go to www.amudim.org.

{Matzav.com}

13 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for publicizing this. When individuals talk about it, they are shunned; listeners don’t want to believe it. May Hashem bring a nechoma to all of these families.

  2. the last one had a loving wife , was not ” restricted”, was seeing a doc, was making ” very nice ” parnassa, & his fanily was accepting….evenone is one too many.. in the forward you said 26 and name 4 in the last year . the majority of the suicides have tried or think they tried everything and were time bombs R”L ready to explode galus!

  3. Mr Gluck,
    Yours is indeed a very noble cause. And I don’t believe there is a Jew out there who would disagree with you as to the tragedy of young people battling drug addiction, mental illness, abuse etc.
    Furthermore, if your organization works hard to help these young men and women, we should all be supporting you in any way possible.
    Here’s the problem I have. I don’t know how old you are, but you seem young. Please don’t talk down to me. I didn’t create this problem. Actually, I’m one of those who dedicates their life to helping families AVERT these tragic outcomes from the onset. But this is not my promotional ad. It’s yours.
    Yes, you’re “angry.” I got that. But if what you want is to reach people with your message, think about how you can do so most effectively.
    Here’s a hint. I have a Rebbi who wanted to get the bochurim in yeshivah to stop smoking. Instead of hammering away at us with how dangerous and how asur it is etc, he presented to us medical facts about how rapidly we can heal our damaged lungs by stopping to smoke.
    If he had taken the former approach, not one of us would have considered quitting. Instead, my Rebbi’s chochmadike approach gave us the very reassuring feeling that we can do this and that the toeles is real.
    Maybe you too can take the approach of presenting facts and anecdotes about how people like me can easily help. Maybe real stories about how people like me did in fact help. This type of chizuk will yield results, my friend.
    Yasher koach, my friend.

  4. A high level, * independent * commission, should investigate the sensational statistics claimed by Mr. Gluck.

    We need to be ascertain if they are accurate, or perhaps exaggerated, to make sure they are not being hyped up to support one organization or another.

    • “Independent investigation needed ”

      Amazing… and if its only 10 cases ??!
      Are you fine with that?
      And if the Org is making money? Have you thought of a better option?!
      Lives are at stake and all people are concerned if its exactly 70 or 30…or if an Org is promoting itself..

      • We need to know the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth.

        Do you have a problem with the truth being told?

        I was not aware that Mr. Gluck was the high priest of the Jewish world with regard to such matters, with no one else knowing anything or being involved in same.

        Let us hear from others who know, people involved in Jewish affairs, other organizations involved in helping young people. Do they accept Mr. Gluck’s statistics?

        • Why don’t you trust it? Because it shines a truthful light under the mattress of the jewish community? The chickens have come home to roost. Social media won’t let history wipe away the painful and callus nature of the jewish community towards those who don’t fit the right shape!

  5. Thanks so much for bringing the matter out in the public!
    However,
    “If you see someone suffering, be it from abuse, mental illness, addiction, or anything else that seems off, DO SOMETHING.”
    Here is the issue – how do we “see someone suffering” ? unfortunately, these are signs the ordinary person can not detect. I doubt anyone would have noticed the “happy looking” 22 and happily-married year-old young man what pain he was going through. we always see comments after any of these happen “she/he looked so happy”etc.

    Is there (IF) any particular signs to we should be aware of?
    If yes, please post.
    You will never know, in some cases just by the act of speaking to these broken and lonely hearts, you might save a life…

  6. There were signs with the latest untimely death of the young man last week. He had posted to Twitter a series of comments that alluded to his depressed state of mind. Perhaps not marrying young people off while still in their teens would help alleviate the growing divorce rate and instances of depression. Individuals need to figure out what they want do with their lives, perhaps a career or school, before taking on the responsibility of a spouse and children. If the idea of marrying/having a family was less of the focus then these young people would not be under the pressure to seek comfort in substance abuse or be depressed if they are not ready to conform to societal “norms.”

  7. The circumstances of the last ‘suicide’ was very suspect and indicate possible homicide!, I hope its being investigated properly.

  8. why are you angry? At who? Did you write anything except “DO SOMETHING”? What exactly should we do? reach out, get professional help you write. I didn’t even know this 18 year old. or the young married man. What exactly are you angry at me for? can you tell us why so many people are depressed? I don’t agree with “anonymous” who blames our young people for getting married young. What are the sgtatistics of young marrieds committing suicide? What about the person who wrote depressing things on his “twitter” accouant. I don’t have a twitter accouant, and donh’t know how to access it. Should I open one so that I can stalk people, see if they are depressed and then DO SOMETHING?

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