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ON REAGAN THE MAN AND HIS PRESIDENCY By RONNIE WOOER “An extremely useful and an extremely frightening book.” Washington Post “Sheds much light on the Reagan record . . . No one who reads Mr. Dugger’s illuminating book will be surprised again at the insensitivity of Ronald Reagan.” Anthony Lewis, New York Times “It should be read by all who claim to be serious about what course this nation is going to take.” Houston Post Name Address City State Zip The Texas Observer 600 West 7th Austin, Texas 78701 Send us $20 and we will send you an autographed copy of Ronnie Dugger’s acclaimed book on Ronald Reagan. \(Postage included; Texas residents two people, either students or teachers, didn’t kill themselves in the course of the year.” Veteran police officers are quick to point out that there are no statistics that show that Clear Lake leads other parts of Harris County in suicides. They do say, however, that it seems that a higher incidence of suicides are reported in more affluent areas than in poverty areas. Psychologists argue that the peer pressure that encourages an adolescent to speak with a Valley Girl accent, wear designer jeans, and drive nothing but a Pontiac Fiero may also contribute to the copy-cat nature of the Clear Lake suicides. According to Roberta Diddel, a psychologist with Houston’s Pain and Fitness Center, “In a sense the roles which teenagers provide for themselves are good things. They are addressing real serious problems. When there are a group of peers which are suicidal, if an individual is without a sense of identity, or depressed to a point where they see no future for themselves, then the structure of someone else’s behavior may be attractive.” Of the seven teenage suicides since last February, six have been of a violent nature. Diddle says, “You can’t ignore the statement that makes about the value of their bodies and themselves, that they would blow themselves away. Often the comment you hear is that ‘I’d kill myself, but it would upset my parents, or my wife would find the body, or if I could find a way to do it, I would, if it wouldn’t upset anyone.’ ” Diddel says that those who commit suicide in a violent fashion do it “with the objective of making a point. That may be consistent with the sense of emptiness of really not having an existence.” The quality of life in Clear Lake is the lifestyle to which most Americans aspire. Parents are actively involved in “It’s kind of a sore subject to bring up.” making sure their children participate in activities from youth soccer games to the renowned Clear Lake High School Choir. Families live in homes which are markedly a cut above the way most other people live. Everyone is close to the water, and many have a boat. The restaurants are generally superb, and there is a plethora of unique shops to serve the community’s needs. Most residents are members of some sort of club, and the backyard barbecue has been raised to a culinary art. The economy is booming, and has done so without a break since the ’60s. With the attractiveness of living in Clear Lake has come growing pains. Traffic is horrendous, and civic organizations are trying to do something about it. So far, their efforts have been futile. But traffic does not generally drive people to take their own lives. Like most large high schools, Clear Lake has had its share of drug-related problems. Students who prefer not to be identified say that the problem has improved somewhat this year. Yet, while it is improving overall, they also say that their peers are moving toward harder drugs, such as cocaine. The controversial Palmer Drug Abuse Procampus in past years, but it seems not to be maintaining such a high profile today. At one time it had been fashionable to be involved with PDAP. Some of the Clear Lake suicide victims had problems with drugs in the past, but, significantly, autopsy findings did not reveal that drugs were related at the time of death. The business community has had little interest in the social problems in their community. David Ross is the president of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. He says that the subject of the suicides has not been brought up at a single board or committee meeting. The Clear Lake Chamber is one of the most active in the state. It is interesting that the community leaders are not discussing a problem which has gained national attention. The Chamber’s attitude may reflect the thoughts of many in the community who wish that the problem would go away. Clear Lake is used to pleasant things, good publicity, space spectaculars, and local festivals. The glare of media attention to the problems at the school don’t reflect the image the community would like to project. On a Monday following several deaths, a 16-year-old high school junior said, regarding the talk around the school about the problem, “It might as well have been forgotten. It’s kind of a sore subject to bring up.” CLEAR LAKE is a community of superachievers: they have put man on the moon, they right fully take credit for bringing the world into the era of high tech, their lives have been successful. Failure is unacceptable. Most Clear Lake parents expect their children to measure up to their achievements. Some simply do not. Psychologists admit that this year’s educational reforms, with the accompanying tightening up of academic standards, could be playing a part in the Bay Area tragedies. Supkis says, “The pressures at home to achieve are tremendous. Some kids don’t make it. They just aren’t what their parents expect.” There is something fundamentally wrong with Clear Lake, and the experts don’t have any solid answers. The disturbing thing is: if there is something wrong with Clear Lake, is there something wrong with the American dream’? 10 NOVEMBER 9, 1984