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The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism 2002-2003

Thomas Curwen

Feature Writer, Los Angeles Times
Former Deputy Editor, Los Angeles Times Book Review
Los Angeles, California

Topic: Feature-length stories for the Los Angeles Times to explore the roles impulsivity and mental illness play in contributing to suicides in the United States

Published Work:

Edwin S. Shneidman Dies at 91; Pioneer in the Field of Suicide Prevention
Shneidman helped found the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center in 1958 at a time when the issue was largely shunned. Edwin S. Shneidman, a pione8er in the field of suicide prevention and a prolific thinker and writer who believed that life is enriched by the contemplation of death and dying, has died. He was 91.

Waiting for Death, Alone and Unafraid
Edwin Shneidman knows what the end will be: You're driving down a road in the desert, and the engine suddenly stops. The silence of night never lasts long. It ends somewhere in the 5 o'clock hour with the purring of the heater and distant strains of Sam Cooke.

His Work is Still Full of Life
Edwin Shneidman has long been a scholar of suicide. At 86, slowed by illness and out of the mainstream, he's not yet ready for his own death.

Learning to Detect the Enemy Within
Billy Parker's world is coming apart, one question at a time. His life and his problems are fictitious, but he is modeled after real soldiers in trouble: He wants to kill himself.

Choosing Against Life
Judging whether life is worth living or not is, as Camus famously wrote, the fundamental question of philosophy. Yet he clearly understates the problem. For those who kill themselves, there can be no second-guessing. That decision is merely the surcease of pain.

Every 17 Minutes, someone in this country commits suicide. But opinions on why there's an epidemic of self-inflicted death-- and how to stop it-- often conflict.

Haunted by a Bear Attack
No one knew what to expect on the trail to Grinnell Glacier one late summer morning, but a second bull moose less than an hour out was hardly a good sign. During September and October -- mating season -- it's always best to give the spindly-legged animals plenty of room.

Students Have Real-Life Problems Too
The start of a new school year inevitably brings a new round of hand-wringing and finger-pointing. Test scores are too low. Classes are overcrowded; facilities falling apart. The budget is inadequate, and standardized curriculums are woefully irrelevant. The Los Angeles Unified School District should be broken up; bureaucrats must be accountable; taxpayers need to know how their money is being spent.

Pain, Gratitude and a Long Fight Back
His halo was a cage, and all Johan Otter could do was stare out through the carbon graphite rods that pinned his head in place.

Walking Away from Grief
A 100-mile, 11-day trek to fulfill his late wife's wishes for her ashes takes Montana nature writer Gary Ferguson back to the wilderness he thought had betrayed him when she died in a canoe accident.

A Hike into Horror and an Act of Courage in Glacier National Park
A California man visiting Glacier National Park with his daughter instinctively puts himself between her and the rampaging bear's claws and teeth.

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