I just read an inspiring letter to the editor from the Tennessean reader Sheila A. Hobson.

In short, Sheila wrote the letter to commend Beverly Keel’s (a celebrity columnist for the Tennessean) decision to stop reporting news about country music star Mindy McCready (news related to her struggles with problems like drug and alcohol abuse and reported suicide attempts), and make a few very valid points to other readers (and Americans) regarding the public’s responses to such news.

You can read the entire letter online, but my favorite bits are:

The public needs to realize that until you or a loved one battle the demons of mental illness and/or drug and alcohol addition, one has no clue what you are up against […]

I would hope that the next time we Americans are tempted to feed off of the failures of the famous, instead we would remember that individual with a thought for hope and positive long-term success in our daily thoughts, prayers and meditations.

After all, they are human beings just like we are.

Well said, Sheila. Obviously, I’m not opposed to writing about mental health issues in the media that could possibly shed light on mental illness, help folks better understand mental health, and help eradicate stigma; otherwise, I wouldn’t write this blog. However, celebrities are human beings just like us, and it just doesn’t make any sense to find joy from their failures.

Why get excited when this famous person overdoses on drugs, or that famous person struggles to properly manage bipolar disorder? Where is the humor in watching a fellow human being suffer so horribly that he or she feels the only option is suicide? Why do so many people feel better about their own lives when they know others are so miserable with theirs?

If your sister had a drug problem, you wouldn’t point your finger and laugh at her. If your mother needed help managing mania, you wouldn’t joke about her excessive spending and impending bankruptcy. And, if your best friend attempted suicide, you sure as hell wouldn’t call up Entertainment Tonight with a hot tip.

Why treat celebrities any differently?

I couldn’t find any other reference to Beverly Keel’s decision to no longer report news about Mindy McCready’s downfalls, but if Sheila Hobson is correct, I wholeheartedly applaud Keel.