Franklin James Cook

Fan’s Death Should Prompt Compassion for Mental Illness

In Grief, Media, Mental Illness, Stigma on December 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm
Paula Goodspeed

Paula Goodspeed

ORIGINAL STORY — Since Suicide Prevention News and Comment was launched a few months ago to strengthen connections among the network of suicide prevention and grief workers in communities across North America, it is sad to note that the topic most covered by the media–with no close second-place story competing for the top spot–is the suicide of Paula Goodspeed near the Sherman Oaks, Calif., home of “American Idol” judge and pop music star Paula Abdul.

SPNAC has not posted coverage on the young woman’s death for a number of reasons, not the least of which is concern about the sensationalism of suicide in the media. But with the feeding frenzy continuing unabated (People magazine is all but turning the story into a serial feature, in which the latest installment refers to Abdul’s interview on Monday with news icon Barbara Walters on Sirius-XM’s “Barbara Live!“), we decided to weigh in by pointing SPNAC readers to coverage from a small newspaper in Goodspeed’s home state of Maine, the Kennebec Journal, in which reporter Amy Calder offers a story about a woman who succumbed to mental illness while suffering from the damage that comes from trying to cope with it in today’s society.

Grieving family members say she struggled with manic depression and an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. She also harbored a great sadness from when her two children were taken by the state several years ago amidst a bad marriage, said Goodspeed’s mother, Sandra McIntyre.

“She was beautiful,” McIntyre said from California [after the death], where she was preparing to bring her daughter’s ashes back to Maine. “She was a beautiful, beautiful daughter, and I helped her as much as I could. I can’t bear the loss of being without her. It’s so hard.”

Her mother had “moved to California in January to be with her daughter, who had shriveled from 140 pounds when she left Maine, to 78 pounds at her death.”

“Since I have been out here all this year, she has gone to her psychologist a lot, and it didn’t seem to help,” McIntyre said. “She was so depressed that she just felt like she wasn’t worthy of this world — that’s how depressed she was.”

[The abridged URL for this post is  http://tinyurl.com/PromptCompassion .]

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  1. Thank you for the link to the Kennebec Journal story about Paula, I found it much more relevant and suitable than the other Hollywood tabloid takes. I am saddened by her tragic story and it is my hope that people will remember her and think about how some struggle with mental health issues.

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