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Letters to the Editor

A farewell to a great author

The world has lost one of its most vibrant freethinkers, a lover of peace and a standard of human excellence and compassion. Kurt Vonnegut was a true humanist, one of the few novelists of our time who had the ability and the guts to point out the most horrific and the most beautiful aspects of human existence in a single sentence and still make the reader giggle over every page. I feel as if I have lost a good friend this morning, and I don’t think that makes me overlydramatic.

He was a seeker of truths, and more than that, he was a teller of truths. I’m sad that he did not live to see the day when the message of love for all human beings was more important than the message to fear any one who seems different.

He was one of my personal heroes and one of the great intellects of the past century. But who will take his place? Who are our heroes today? Does anyone else feel a sense that there is something disturbingly wrong in the world today – that great intellects die with a whisper, yet everyone in the world knows when the life of a vapid starlet ends? I don’t mean to make a judgment that suggests that one human life is more valuable than the next. I only mean to point out the growing lack of attention paid to leaders who have spent their entire lives trying to wake us up, to save us from ourselves.

When the value of human life plummets worldwide, the value of individual lives do, too. And when the value of the planet’s life plummets, “property value” goes with it. The human race is all in this together, like it or not. Most of the great intellects and idealists, the peacemakers, and those dedicated to finding and relating the truth to people are passing and who will replace them? Maybe you, maybe me or maybe no one at all.

Rest in peace Kurt Vonnegut.

April J. Czerepak is a graduate student in religious studies.

John Winter will be missedRe: “Students can help prevent Winter’s fate,” by Aaron Hill, April 9.

The aftershock from last week’s suicide of WFLA meteorologist John Winter is still ever-present throughout the Tampa Bay community. It is times like this that show that celebrities, including beloved news personalities, are just people underneath it all and are subject to the same stress, problems and emotions that all people have.

I think that this tragedy presents an opportunity to bring attention to the problem of depression. Although sadness is a normal reaction to setbacks or disappointments, sometimes it can be hard for some to move on and “get over the hump.” After a while, simple tasks such as eating and sleeping become rare accomplishments for them and working or studying becomes a daunting task. Residing in a general apathetic state, these people feel lifeless and empty and get little to no enjoyment out of the hobbies and activities that used to interest them. In extreme cases, the person lacks the desire to live anymore and wishes to take his or her own life.

It is important to recognize the signs of depression so that this can be prevented from happening to friends or loved ones. Symptoms of depression include significant weight loss, insomnia, oversleeping, constant fatigue, aches and pains, self-loathing and depressed mood or a loss of interest in activities. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of severe depression and must always be taken seriously.

College students are faced with many tasks, assignments and challenges – which, when combined with unique social pressures, work and other obstacles – present a thorny and complicated time period in their lives. That being said, it is important for one to not only be cognizant of their own problems and tendencies, but also those of their peers in class. An intervention may very well be the difference between life and death for a classmate or loved one.

If someone you know is threatening suicide, professional help is available right here on the USF campus. The Counseling Center for Human Development (SVC 2124, 974-2831) can help students going through a crisis such as this.

Peter J. Lazazzaro is a junior majoring in public relations.