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Letter to the Editor: Using victim as poster boy for PTSD was shocking, hurtful

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I was at first shocked, then hurt, and then outraged at the headline of the May 9 Pioneer. I can fathom no reason or purpose in reporting the intimate details of Ryan Nelson’s death.

What did the paper hope to gain by printing in excruciating detail the events leading up to and including Ryan’s death? A whole half of the front page followed by another three-quarters of a page inside covered every vivid detail.

It has been three months since Ryan died. This much detail wasn’t even reported at the time of his death. All this article has served to do is open healing wounds, causing them to bleed again, and to create hard, hard feelings.

The Pioneer has put forth that they are trying to bring attention to the plight of the veterans and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) victims. I am a veteran. So is my husband. We both feel that this message could have been better expressed without placing Ryan on display and exposing his life, his troubles and his death. Ryan has not been given the choice to participate in such an article.

PTSD is a serious disease, but using Ryan as a “poster boy” is not the answer in drawing attention to the symptoms and treatment of this awful condition.

There is one glaring fact that has been continuously omitted and has been eating at me since Ryan’s death. I have tried to not judge, but since the Pioneer reported how hard everyone tried to help Ryan, I feel the door is now open to ask: “Why wasn’t one member of Ryan’s family contacted until well after his death?” Not one. Could someone from his family been able to help Ryan and perhaps persuade him to lay down his arms? Perhaps not, but we’ll never know because we were not contacted. I can also report that not one family member was contacted regarding this article in spite of the front page statement, “Ryan Nelson’s suicide resonates with loved ones.”

I am Ryan’s aunt. I had the privilege of helping to raise Ryan. He lived with my husband and me for over seven years. May he rest in peace.

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