Letters to the Editor (May 2009)

Evolving Opportunities

After reading "Study Eyes Career Choices" [February News], I reflected back on my decision while in college to change my career path to social work. Back in 1953 my life and the social work field were very different. I was single, attended college in New York City and only knew, when speaking with a friend who introduced me to social work, that "helping people help themselves" sounded like the path I wanted to pursue. Graduate school in New York introduced me to field placements that were very meaningful for me. Once I married and we traveled to where his education and positions took us around the country, my social work positions changed.

In the more than 40 years I worked providing direct services in private and public settings, I had opportunities in family agencies, teaching hospitals, and public schools that did not all exist when I considered entering social work. Some of those positions, evolved, as I did, over the decades.

When NASW studies provide data to guide social work recruitment efforts, it is only a guideline, as people's lives evolve, social work positions evolve, and opportunities in different communities may evolve as well. Who knows what opportunities will be available for potential social workers to consider in the next 40-plus years?

Doris Weller, LSCSW
Wichita, Kan.


Negative Connotations

The March 2009 NASW News story "Examining Teen Suicide Prevention" included the following text underneath the headline: "Seventy-two percent of those who commit suicide suffered from a mental illness." I would like to point out that in the field of suicidology, the preferred wording would be "completed suicide," "suicide decedent," or "person who completed suicide." The use of the phrase "commit suicide" has a negative and moral connotation, such as commit a crime, commit adultery, commit a sin, etc.

This is just a note for all social workers and readers in an effort to hopefully sensitize more social workers to the issues of suicide. I am very glad to see more attention is being brought to the issue of suicide and the field of social work!

Karen Slovak, Ph.D., LISW-SUP
Zanesville, Ohio