Dear Cutie Patootie,
I heard the news today about you and I’m so sad. I used to think that suicide was wrong. Growing up it was so black and white. To suicide was just plain wrong, let alone dumb. I thought by simply talking to someone you could find the word, God would lead them to you, and this would save someone who was battling with depression.
The Bible tells us:
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
I had this same belief until I began my work in homeless services. Seeing years of un-medicated mental illness often combined with drug or alcohol abuse changed my view on this topic.
Cutie Patootie, I remember the first time I met you. I came up to you sitting outside freshly out of jail. You had hospital scrubs on and explained that you were infamous. You eagerly agreed to take my help. You stood just shy of five foot and explained that you could hear better out of one ear. Your nickname Cutie Patootie was because of your child like manor and small stature.
As small as you were in stature you made up for in personality. Hours we spent in social service offices together as we waited for you get help or to see case managers. It was then that I first realized the anger and violence that people reported you to have was because of your size and loss of hearing. People would approach you, you couldn’t hear and you would ask them to repeat. The person addressing you would become more animated and in your misunderstanding of the person towering over you, you would fight. So it was time and time again you would go to jail and come out again. At times you would go indoors but inevitably predators would steal from you taking your ID or money and again you would be out on the streets. Drinking was a way to escape the pain of the streets and hurt.
I can remember you proudly introducing me as your helper. Your pants were cuffed to a 6inch cuff and your arms pushed your long sleeve shirt back in place as you smiled proudly to your white IMPACT team. I remember sitting waiting for hours hoping the team would help you but we both became downtrodden when they took days or weeks to respond to your calls. I would beg with them to help you because you were newly sober again. I remember punching a wall when I heard you again had gotten picked up and were in jail for fighting.
All you needed was some hearing aids and a friend, an advocate. I heard that you couldn’t take the cycle anymore. You were caught in the revolving door of homelessness and decided to end your life in jail.
Cutie Patootie while I still don’t agree with suicide, I now understand. May God give your soul rest, rest that you never got in this life. May he hold you in his arms now and listen as you share with him your quick wit. Thank God you are finally free from your addiction to alcohol.
Cutie Patootie I’m sorry that I couldn’t help you. I’m sorry that we as a system failed you. You were so kind and had so much to offer. You had a childlike spirit and I’m sorry for the world that they didn’t see that side of you. I left town and never got to say goodbye to you. I left to fix the system. What I couldn’t accomplish in San Diego, I hope to do in Las Vegas.
I promise to never quit fighting for those who suffer on the streets like you do. I won’t stop advocating for programs that help those who are victims to mental illness and substance abuse. I want to shed a light onto those that have been babysat by our jails and hospitals for years. I want to stop the revolving door. Cutie Patootie you believed I could help, I can and I won’t stop this fight.