From Occupy Vermont:
Yesterday, November 10th at 2pm, Josh, a valued member of Occupy Burlington and the houseless community, took his own life at the encampment. We want to take this moment to offer our thoughts and condolences to Josh’s family, and to the members of the Occupy community who got to know Josh over the last two weeks.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the encampment are with his friends and family. We appreciate the support we have received from the Burlington community, the country, and the world. We ask for everyone’s continued support and solidarity as we deal with this tragedy.
From the first day of the encampment, we have welcomed all members of the community by providing anyone in need with food, shelter, and social support. Despite our best efforts to provide care and support to all members of the community, occupations are not equipped with the infrastructure and resources needed to care for the most vulnerable members of our community. The lack of resources to care for those in need was brought to the attention of Burlington city leaders. Unfortunately, our plea for assistance was not heeded in time to help Josh.
This tragedy draws attention to the gross inequalities within our system. We mourn the loss of a great friend tonight, while discovering an ever-deeper resolve to stand with our most vulnerable citizens. The failure to provide citizens with adequate and accessible physical and mental healthcare is one of the many issues this movement is fighting for.
Again, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone reeling from this loss and we deeply appreciate everyone who has offered support, compassion, and solidarity. It is our hope that this tragedy will serve as a rallying cry for occupations around the country to continue the fight for system change.
Mind(ful) Liberation Project and other groups around the world are working towards better options. With our weekly peer support groups, we hope to offer this option up to everyone instead of people feeling like they need to result to feeling alienated and alone, and resulting to suicide or self-destructive behavior.
We hope to foster a community of caring for each other as thinking, feeling human beings. Connections made in peer support groups, and outside of them in our more social activities, help us destigmatize emotional and mental health concerns and make us all feel more comfortable in our own skin. Please help us in destigmatizing mental “illness.” Stigmatization is painful for everyone on both sides.
Making a personal connection could be the difference between a friend being alive and us helping them overcome obstacles and feeling so alone and like nothing else is left for them in this world.
Our thoughts are with Josh, his family, friends, and comrades.
With solidarity and love,