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Alan Bisbort, Editor
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Friday, June 21, 1S74
by CD Gaines
Asst. Features Editor
Bee J lies to the j lowers,
He jlies to the hive.
Bee jlies at all hours,
He's glad he's alive.
A lethal look
Tall buildings and point-blank pistol shots provide the ugliest reminders of human
despair. Fortunatsly, this is a view seldom seen in Chapel Hill.
, , (Photo by Ted MeSlnik)
Yes, it's good to be alive, isn't it? To
hear the whipporwiU's nightly song. To
lie on the grass between classes. To toss
a Frisbee with friends.
But sometimes people forget about
the nice things in life. Occasionally
someone decides to cancel his act. One
out of every 1,000 teenagers attempts to
kill himself. In fact, suicide is the second
leading cause of death among college
students (accidents being first and
There are several reasons why
someone may attempt to commit
suicide. A blue, spring evening or the
loss of someone close may y ield a suicide
attempt. To some people, the loss of
self-esteem is enough to cause self
destruction. Any or all of these
tribulations could evoke the idea of
suicide in someone's head.
Some suicides are just gestures. They
are cries for help or a way of getting
attention. A person might not intend to
kill himself, but sometimes" he
Some people talk about suicide
repetitively for sympathy and care.
Eight out of 10 suicide victims had given
definite warnings of their suicidal
And some people come to the
unequivocal decision to kill themselves.
They choose lethal and irreversible
methods like blowing their heads off (a
popular Southern method) or jumping
off high buildings.
But even leaping is not as lethal as it
looks. Recently, a patient in the
psychiatric ward of Memorial Hospital,
South Wing, survived a jump from the
fifth floor. Dr. Seymour Halleck, a
psychiatrist working at South Wing,
said, "He was very out of his head when
he did it."
Halleck came here from the Madison
campus of the University of Wisconsin.
While he was there, they had three or
four jumpings a semester. He described
one corpse as having "a look of total'
Dr. Bruce A. Baldwin of the Student
Mental H ealth Service also mentioned a
national concern in the mid-60's about
people- jumping off high buildings.
While he was a student at Penn State,
there were many jumpings.
Baldwin said that on the Carolina
campus there are about two suicides per
academic year. Five to eight attempts
Vickie Greene, director of
Switchboard, said that they get four to
five suicidal calls a month. Usually, they
are people who have taken lots of pills.
"If people call here," she said, "some
part of them wants us to talk them out of
Switchboard gets the victim to
emergency care, if needed, and tries to
encourage ongoing treatment after the
Two recent suicide victims used guns.
One was a foreign student,
unfortunately a high risk for suicides.
The other was a female repeater.
Repeaters, people who have
attempted suicide before, account for a
significant number of suicide cases. One
Carolina student cut her wrists in a
suicide attempt during the spring
semester. She made an earlier effort by
taking an overdose of pills.
Female suicide attempts are three
times more frequent than male
attempts. But males account for three
times as many completed suicides as
On college campuses, suicides usually
take place six weeks into the semester.
Spring is the season of the most suicides
according to national figures, . while
more homicides are committed in the
summer than any other season.
Alcohol has been connected with 85
per cent of all suicides. Alcohol is also
related to sub-intentional suicdes. Some
people that get drunk, then drive their
car 90 m.p.h. may be sub-intentionally
Parachuting can be another" sub
intentional suicide attempt. The sub
intentional suicide is not an overt act.
But anyone who places himself in a
dangerous situation where he might get
killed could be a victim of sub
intentional suicide, a sub-conscious and
temporary death wish.
For some people, the suicide attempt
can be a good thing. Often for someone
to decide that they want to live, they
have to come close to dying.
That's where methods low in lethality,
like wrist scratching, or high in
reversibility, like pills, come in handy. If
everyone who attempted suicide,
actually succeeded, the world would be
significantly less populated.
Kurt Vonnegut, J r. in Welcome to the
Monkey House foresees Suicide Parlors
built like Howard Johnson's where
people can go for a free last meal and
It is written in Suicidology, a
publication of the National Institute of
Mental Health: "There are no modern
writers who contend that mental
disorder is either a necessary or
sufficient cause of suicide."
"You can't force someone to get
help," said Baldwin. But after a suicide
or some other behavior considered
dangerous to others, one can be
involuntarily committed. And
according to North Carolina law. it is a
punishable misdemeanor to attempt
suicide. But so is smoking dope.
'Conrack is enjoyable myth
by Peter Hardy
Blacks may be appearing more in films but there have been
few movies to treat black people much more intelligently
than they have been for the last 40 years. The most that could
be said for blaxploitation flicks like Cleopatra Jones and
Slaughter's Big Rip Off is that they provide black people
with their own heroes to cheer as they rampage and maul
their way across the screen.
And though there have been more intelligent films about
black people recently, few of them have dealt specifically
with the problems of being black. Sounder, for example, was
a lovely film about a poor family that happened to be black.
It was directed by Martin Ritt, who directed Sidney Poitier
in one of his first starring roles in Face of the City (1957) and
later in 1969 made The Great White Hope, a fictionalized
account ot the career of black boxing champion Jack
Johnson, who was persecuted for his color at the turn of the
Ritt is once again dealing with black people in Conrack,
and it's difficult to know quite how to react to the film. It's a
true story of a white teacher who worked with miserably
under-privileged black children on an island off the South
Carolina coast in 1969. He sheds light into their world, gives
them a glimpse of the limitless possibilities of the world and
then is forced to leave by a disapproving administration.
It's difficult not to be moved by such a story, particularly
since it's true. But a very viable question can be raised: Arc
the students not perhaps worse off after the teacher leaves
than before, since they now can see what they're missing?
More important is the film'sattitude toward blacks. What
we have is basically the story of a white god who comes
bringing wonderful gifts to adoring little black kids, and then
leaves it's like a myth. And in these touchy times some
people might be offended by it.
An interesting comparison is the new version of
Huckleberry Finn. It's pretty limp generally, but the
treatment of the black slave Jim is very revealing. In the
novel, Jim was the standard image of the dark ie, in both his
language and his gullible, simple faithfulness. Twain still
managed to give what was for his 'time a very strong,
compassionate statement against racism.
However, today you could nevergetaway with having J im
going around making with the "O T Massah Huck" dialogue,
so in consequence J im not only speaks better English than
anyone else in the film, but his character has so much
"dignity" piled up on it that the flavor of the character is lost
and the racist statement loses most of its edge. In trying not
to offend anybody, films these days may end up offending
everybody by their utter blandness.
In any case, Conrack is generally enjoyable, thanks mostly
to the warm, vibrant performance Jon Voight gives us in the
title role. The film makers sometimes seem like they're
patronizing, but fortunately Voight never does.
(( ' O
A co o A A H I I H
1 XL- ( 0 X a ) i l
(c r C j
We inadvertently put the wrong price on our County
label albums. We'd like to refund the sum of $1 to anyone who has purchased a County
label record from our downtown Chapel Hill store. Just bring your album to the Chapel Hill
Record Bars for your refund! We are also having a sale on all County albums for only
$2.98 each. Stop by the Chapel Hill Record Bars for this County Records sale June 21-June 30.
! c t G 1 (j .. ' Cj