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American Horror Story
There’s no nice way to put it: Death has been in the air in Port Angeles. With all the recent focus and discussion on the need for suicide barriers on bridges – to spend, or not to spend, that is the question – there’s no denying that the strong and steady undercurrent of despair in Clallam County has become more visible.
Clallam County is reliably one of the top two counties in the state when it comes to suicide. It’s always in the top three for rates of opiate overdoses and substance abuse. Unemployment rates are persistently higher than average. Graduation rates are consistently lower than average. These are but a few of the long-term and painfully obvious realities that map the contours of hopelessness and desperation in Clallam County.
That being the case, what are we to make of the blasé attitude of the local elected officials? The City likes to spend itself into oblivion on stupid projects, while turning a blind eye to the wolf at the door. On the other hand, the County likes to try and brag about how little they spend, how tight their belts are. Meanwhile, the junkies shoot up, the jumpers fall down, and the bodies continue to pile up.
How can this cycle be broken? Can it be broken at this point? Is this an epidemic of despair that can be treated, or an endemic situation that, at best, can be managed? And what is the role of elected officials in all this? Should they focus on the budgets and leave the rest to sort itself out? Or do they have blood on their hands?
Posted by Crypt Kicker at 5:39 AM
Anonymous December 2, 2014 at 7:16 AM
It’s an honest assessment of the situation. The kind we need to get from our checked out, so called leaders. But they continue to dwell in a fantasy world, where prosperity is just around the corner.
No, no it’s not. It will takes years, possibly generations, for Clallam County to dig itself out of the hole it’s in. Years of hard work, guided by intelligent planning.
See any of that on the horizon? Me either.
Dale Wilson December 2, 2014 at 8:16 AM
May I put this on the Port O Call website?
Crypt Kicker December 2, 2014 at 3:39 PM
Share and share alike. Go for it, Dale, and thanks for your interest.
Anonymous December 2, 2014 at 8:35 AM
A HUGE part of the problem, as laid out here, is that the people making decisions in local government don’t seem to have even a rudimentary understanding of how their short sighted economic decisions have long term personal and social effects. Money wasted on the Turd Tank is money NOT spent on things that could actually improve the community, make it more marketable to employers, more sustainable in the long run, etc. That depresses the economy further, putting even more stress on families, and opening the door for more drug use, suicides, acting out, that sort of thing.
In that sense, yes, you could say there’s blood on the hands of some of these people. Certainly the grand manipulators, people like Jim Jones, Karen Rogers, Glenn Cutler, have blood on their hands. But I suspect they don’t care about that so long as there’s money in their bank account.
And ironically, I think that in some cases, the worse it gets here, the easier it gets for these manipulators to pitch these idiotic, lipstick on a pig projects, because they can at least say they’re doing it for the fabled “economic development.” But jobs and robs are only separated by one letter, you know?
Anonymous December 2, 2014 at 9:57 AM
Did you see this comment on the PDN website, yesterday?
” Steve Trubow · The Ohio State University
Our team of expert doctors, scientists, and technologists is providing no-cost depression screening and suicide intervention programs in Bremerton, Shelton, Tri-Cities, Seattle and Tacoma for the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs. Even with Clallam County’s second highest suicide rate in Washington, we could not get Peninsula Behavioral Health to participate in a no-cost program that has been proven to reduce suicide attempts by 40%.”
You ask if the cycle can be broken. From what this person said, they aren’t even interested in TRYING, here!
No money for fences, but we have $1.2 million for a massively over engineered “rain garden” to filter rainwater from a couple streets?!
It isn’t even about GRANTs, for chris-sake! The program that was offered, PROVEN to reduce suicide attempts by 40%, was FREE!
Maybe that is the proof of what’s going on in Port Angeles. The economy is so dominated by the grant culture, nothing else is even considered. Yes, that program was free, but it didn’t come with any money for local “administration”, therefore it wasn’t pursued.
Sure, the civic leaders can rally around raising taxes to re-do the sports field for? millions. Live kids running around kicking a rubber ball is of critical importance. But, preventing kids from killing themselves? That would mean we would have to pull our collective heads out of the sand, pull our fingers out of our ears, stop saying “na na na I can’t hear you”, and start acknowledging our own kids are killing themselves, right here.
That our seniors and veterans are killing themselves at the States’ highest rate.
No, let’s focus on sending a letter to Kenmore to try to convince them that they really weren’t losing money trying to operate here. ” Na na na I can’t hear you”.
Anonymous December 2, 2014 at 10:02 AM
I do not know the answer to the deep denial or immature ,idiotic response just about every single one of our elected officials comes up with to address all of our fatal community problems. I can’t imagine how such a apathetic public could even begin to cope with these jackasses and their multi million dollar water front parks and 100 million dollar high schools. I do know that the answer is not letting kids and young adults who are, or feel like they are, trapped in this hell hole with these idiot’s, take a dive off of one of the eight street bridges.
That is why I am seriously proposing that after the city counsel has finished with their current denial and the city spends 20 or 30 thousand dollars outsourcing a study of the benefits of suicide prevention fences verses the costs, I believe we should toss a city official off the bridge of their choosing after every suicide, starting the first of the year. I was thinking we should start with the city counsel itself but it doesn’t really matter, they could all just draw straws. I think it would be a bang up start to the new year and help shake off some of the apathy. This might be a way to wake up the local residents and really get some citizen participation and interest in local government going again.
Anonymous December 2, 2014 at 12:27 PM
I know what ISN’T a solution. Pushing a hundred million dollar school bond, in the face of declining enrollment and those awful graduation numbers seems crazy. At the end of the day, it’s just one more bill for people to pay, and won’t change the situation here much, if at all. I personally believe that the sad graduation rates here have a lot more to do with what goes on in these kids homes than it does with how much we spend on them at school. Dad unemployed? Mom doing meth? Fifteen year old sister pregnant? Who comes out of situations like that as a success? Those situations are all too common here in Clallam County.
AnonymousDecember 2, 2014 at 4:22 PM
I know it doesn’t need to be said, but I will anyways.
We all know giving people hope for their future is WAY more cost effective than trying to build obstacles to try to prevent distraught and dispairing people from killing themselves.
Anonymous December 2, 2014 at 6:06 PM
People often say things like, “Oh, Port Angeles is so terrible it drove Max Mania away!”
But think about this: Port Angeles is so terrible it drove LARRY WILLIAMS away, long before Max left. Harold Norlund left, too, and moved to a town known as the Worst Town in Canada. I guess it was still better than Port Angeles, eh? Slimy Matthew Randazzo left. Crazy Anami left.
What does it say about a community when even the crooks and kooks leave?
Jake ran the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center for over twenty years, but once he retired…Has he even been back since then? Does ANYONE ever come back to Port Angeles after they’ve left?