Scouting for LIFE--Reply
Michael F. Bowman (EC92@AOL.COM)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 18:20:43 -0500
Given that some of the data has started to flow to me, I can answer some of
your statements now.
>Who are "those leaders most likely to be affected by suicide"?
Well, after 24 hours of three people on the net the assumption can be made
that those most likely to be affected by suicide are Boy Scout and Exploring
leaders. We can assume that based on demographics that show that suicides
have the highest rate among those over 65 (first place) and teenage (we
defined as 11-21) youth (second place), especially white and male youth, but
that wasn't something we were worried about at the time, just something we
So that means, on the suicide prevention angle, we need to promote knowledge
of the problem and ways to help identify potential victims for Boy Scout and
>This is so far beyond the expertise of most people, it would >be impossible
to address. Entire organizations are concerned >with mental health issues,
and there is now adequate way for >the BSA to address it in training.
As recently as 10 years ago I would've said the same thing about Child Abuse
but Youth Protection Guidelines has done much, *including* removing the
person who reports it to the Council from the loop. (That's right, a SM
reports it to council and the Scout Exec takes over. If you keep your
suspicion to yourself no one can come back and accuse you of ruining their
And that SE has all the agencies that can help in your area in the office and
can be doing whatever they can to help the family of the abused get
straightened out in as little time as it takes to dial the phone.
>The fatality rate of life is 100%. There are dozens of traumas >we must deal
with. A few years ago, we had an SM who was >jogging and killed by a hit and
run driver. A local scout and >his father were shot (and the father killed).
Excuse me, this is exactly the type of thing we're talking about. Being able
to help a unit when things like this happen. Accidental deaths and suicides.
Stepping in to help a unit through the healing process that occurs. And being
able to get the unit the same type of help schools and other places use in
these type of emergencies.
And those of us blessed by the benefit of a big town might be able to get
that kind of help *if* they think far enough ahead and *if* they know where
to look and *if* the agencies will help some small group from a small area
with a small situation ("one Scoutmaster died for a 12 boy Troop? We'll get
to them when we can, we have a public high school with three youths killed in
an accident") when you need them to be there. But if the training also
involved SE's having the data on hand to immediately provide a source for
help and information no matter *where* you live, with the "Big Organization"
power of the council to convince them to come and help, whether a big city or
a rural community.
The resources may be out there, but they are not always readily available or
recognizable to all of us. And as to "knowing and using the resources of the
group", in my last four units I cannot recall having anyone who could guide
us to the correct mental health agency (in the Chicago Suburbs) when there
was a death. Not even the nurse we had at the time it occurred. By the time
we were able to track things down ourselves we had a youth that we could see
would soon be in trouble and others who didn't know what to do but weren't
willing to talk to us or their parents about it.
So even proximity to a metropolitan area can't guarantee you can get the help
you need when you need it. My DE and SE didn't even offer any help.
Finally, we're not talking about the equivalent of college psych courses here
(excuse me while I wipe the sweat off my palms as I recall my first
counseling class assignment). We're talking about National developing
something to help us guide our units through difficult times, the fact that
suicide is involved in the current discussion doesn't make it the only thing
to be covered. YPG doesn't make all of us experts in Child Abuse, but it
helps us when we have to spot potential offenders or abused Scouts. We
deserve the same sort of thing for this event -- which as *you* pointed out,
occurs all the time.
Does any of that make the idea any more palatable to you? Or are there other
complaints? Because I'd like to hear them now before I devote too much of my
life to this idea.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City