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Used appropriately, antidepressants can help children

Many parents reading the recent articles on the FDA hearings regarding the use of SSRI antidepressants with children will be alarmed by the apparent suicidal risks of allowing their children to use these medications. However, it is important to note that teen suicide was the No. 2 killer of adolescents before the introduction of SSRIs. In the past decade, the incidence of depression among youth has increased. Therefore, the need for treatment is at an all-time high.

What the FDA studies overlooked was the effectiveness of treatment that combines psychotherapy, family education and medication. Hopefully, the National Institute of Mental Health will now undertake a long-term study that identifies the optimal treatment program for the problem of depression in children and adolescents. In the meantime, parents should not hesitate to seek comprehensive treatment that combines medication with counseling, educational services and social support.

Michael T. Smith, Ph.D., Tarpon Springs

USF player made a choice

Re: Muslim athlete quits USF team, Sept. 16.

Andrea Armstrong made the right decision when she quit the USF basketball team. She made a choice: her new religion or basketball. She chose her religion unlike Ahmed Bedier, head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who is trying to make her decision into a political fight.

This has absolutely nothing to do with bigotry or ignorance. When you accept a scholarship or decide to play a sport at a university, you accept its rules and regulations. If you don't agree with those rules, just don't play. It would look really stupid and be a major distraction to have everyone but one person dressed in a team uniform.

I believe people are just fed up with being forced to accommodate everyone else's personal decisions. Those who disagree with those choices are called intolerant, bigoted or ignorant. We, as a society, cannot please everyone's personal whims or decisions. People must accept the consequences of their actions.

In Andrea's case, she had a choice: play basketball or observe her religion. We should not be forced to change to fit her or anyone else's choices.

Dave Bothwell, Seminole

Fear and intolerance

Re: Muslim athlete quits USF team, Sept. 16.

I just read with much sadness the article about Andrea Armstrong, the young lady who quit the University of South Florida basketball team because of the threats she had received since the last story appeared (Islam, athletics clash at USF: Player claims uniform was issue, Sept. 11). I cannot imagine living with that kind of fear, simply for choosing to believe in my god. It also amazes me the hate still directed at so many of our friends and neighbors because who they love may not fit the "idea" of others, or because the color of their skin is different.

The divisiveness that is being perpetrated by the political campaign is only making matters worse. When are we going to wake up and realize that what we need in this world is love and acceptance? Matthew 7:1 says, "Judge not that ye be not judged." Maybe our world would be a better place if we practiced this philosophy along with extending love and acceptance to others in this world. We are all in this together. Fear and hate will get us nowhere.

Janet Goree, Clearwater

Basketball case before terrorism?

Re: USF controversy goes global, Sept.17.

I find it disturbing that Andrea Armstrong can receive more than 100 notes of support sent to the Tampa office of the Council on American Islamic Relations in her quest to wear a different basketball uniform to comply with Muslim dress codes, but there aren't 100 notes of condemnation regarding the atrocities committed by militant Islamic terrorists.

I believe most people understand that not all Muslims are terrorists, but why hasn't there been an outcry from the Islamic community about Islamic terrorism? Why can't the Islamic community send 100 notes of condemnation to their leaders? When terrorism in the name of Islam ends, then harassment toward those who silently assent to the terrorism will likely end as well.

Mary Keller, Seminole

Not easy to vote your beliefs

Re: A church-state balancing act, Sept. 18.

This column describes how Raymond L. Flynn, the former Boston mayor and former ambassador to the Vatican, "is traveling around the country telling Roman Catholics they have a moral obligation to vote _ and a moral obligation to support candidates whose views reflect church teachings on abortion, same-sex marriage and embryonic research."

I am Catholic who believes deeply that abortion is the taking of a life, and that my vote should reflect my faith and convictions. However, is George W. Bush's view on abortion the only issue on which I should judge him?

As a Catholic, should I consider the courageous troops and innocent civilians who have perished in Iraq, fighting an unjustifiable war, one that Pope John Paul himself implored Bush not to initiate?

Should I consider that Bush is pro-capital punishment, a stand which contradicts Catholic doctrine and is decidedly not prolife? Is it morally right for me to vote for a man whose economic policies are dictated by the wealthy and do nothing to improve the lot of the millions who live in poverty in this country?

Is George W. Bush a trustworthy steward of the earth on which all life depends? Do his policies protect our environment and unite us globally with others who share this earth?

I wish a presidential candidate that espoused all of my beliefs existed. But since one does not, I must support a candidate whose policies will protect and benefit the most lives.

Caroline A. Bennett, Palm Harbor

A refreshing editorial stance

Re: Dealing with Nader and CBS should investigate, editorials, Sept. 18.

I love the quality of the St. Petersburg Times, but am often offended by what I see as a liberal bent to the editorial page. I was pleased to see your take on allowing Ralph Nader to appear on Florida's ballot in the fall, though even I can see many glaring reasons for his disqualification.

With regard to the CBS story and the apparently forged documents used by Dan Rather in relation to President Bush's service (or lack thereof), once again you come down on what I perceive the "right" side of the argument that CBS and Rather are in this case the real story.

James A. Nannen, St. Petersburg

Restore respectability to CBS

Re: Dan Rather and the CBS memo scandal.

Dan is done! There is no place for yellow journalism and incomplete research of news on TV. CBS needs to stop the credibility hemorrhaging. Make it quick _ fire Dan! Maybe some respectability will then come back to CBS news.

R. Victor Wood, Indian Rocks Beach

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