Invest in youth
and save lives

Editor of the Reformer:

Three years ago today, we lost our beautiful 16-year-old daughter to suicide. Leah Short was an amazingly gifted athlete, a very bright student and a good, insightful, kind young woman. Leah also had a mental illness. Her death extremely affected not only her family and friends, but all of Brattleboro Union High School and this community.

It is with an extremely sad, aching heart that I learned this community has lost another child this week, a young man from the middle school. The Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition is working very hard to stop this health crisis, but we aren’t doing enough. New England has the highest rate of suicide per capita, Vermont being the highest in New England. Why are our young people losing hope? What can we do?

Our coalition is working to educate everyone in our community about mental health awareness and how to recognize someone who is in crisis, and what to do to help them. My personal goal is to empower young people through mandatory suicide prevention curriculum in the schools. To do this, we need financial help. I will be approaching corporations and individuals willing to give, willing to invest in the very lives of our young people. We need to stop this health crisis in Vermont.

If you are a young person with thoughts of taking your own life, please call 211 or 800-273-8255. There is also a website,

If you would like to learn more and join us in our fight to save our young people, please contact the Center for Health and Learning (802-254-6590 or e-mail, or visit

Kelly Merrigan Short,

Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition,

Brattleboro, Jan. 14

The perfect opportunity

Editor of the Reformer:

There will be an important public forum about the state of our town elementary schools on Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Academy School. This is the first of a series of public forums planned to directly connect community members with policy makers for our district. Each day I hear snatches of conversations about what we want our schools to do and be for our children. Now is a perfect opportunity to get your ideas to people who can actually bring some of these great, innovative ideas to fruition. Since the start of school, I have been part of many animated discussions, including: bringing more hard science to the lower grades; providing opportunities for more challenging math; crafting structures to support teachers better in this era of No Child Left Behind; using more innovative writing programs; partnering more with local artists and businesses to bring our town more "into" our schools; and educating parents and teachers more fully on Common Core. There are a lot of people having really important conversations in private about our schools; let’s bring these vital discussions to a public venue.

Becca Balint,

Brattleboro, Jan. 13

What is newsworthy?

Editor of the Reformer:

Is a software screw-up in the health exchanges really so important we have to hear about it over and over for weeks? Is it just because it’s a government screw-up?

How come we never hear about it when the visiting nurses are late or miss an appointment to care for grampa so gramma misses her ride to her doctors appointment or can’t get groceries until the weekend? How come we don’t see coverage when the insurance company screws up the bill for three months and mom sits on her bed in tears with bills and checks and statements and policies spread across the bed, trying to figure out if she made a mistake and worrying that she needs help but doesn’t want to be a "burden" to the kids?

I guess the difference is the private nurses and insurers just blow you off, while the government has to fix it. I guess that makes it more newsworthy.

And about the money for single-payer -- don’t reporters realize that the payroll tax is the only one that is deductible? We are going to pay for health insurance. We already do. If we pay for health insurance out of our earnings, we have to pay tax on the earnings before we spend them on the insurance. If it comes out in payroll taxes, we don’t. Duhhhhh!

David Schoales,

Brattleboro, Jan. 15