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'No Refuge'

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Thank you for drawing community attention to the mental health climate in Humboldt ("Heartbreaking," Feb. 21).

I've lost dear friends in our therapeutic desert up here. Dawn Mulderig, Anthony Sanger: each possessing a special genius, and many more wandering the midnight streets trailing their baggage.

The changes over the years have not been good. County services are ever more like a drug vending machine. The buffering effect on mental crises of human contact is disappearing: more cars than faces, people in check-out lines with ear buds and eyes locked to their phones.

No refuge. No bathrooms. Separators on benches. A yard owner forced by the county to cut the trees along his stream and man on daily patrol so that homeless people cannot hide.

Our society provides less and less in the way of moral guidance, and my own equilibrium would be disrupted if I were living outdoors in weather like this week's. Your articles hinted at long-term hospitalization for the mentally ill but, remember, these institutions were called "snake pits" back when Gov. Reagan opened their doors.

Thank you for appealing to our own vestigial impulses of brotherly/sisterly love. As the sociologist Emil Durkheim remarked, "Individuals are too closely involved in the life of a society for it to be sick without their being affected. Its suffering inevitably becomes theirs."

Ellen Taylor, Petrolia


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