Marlyville / Fontainebleau / Broadmoor Preservation
post-Katrina and beyond...









press clipping
Anderson Cooper on Suicide Post-Katrina

Well, Katrina claimed more than 1,000 lives. And with new reports that more than 3,200 people are still missing, the final death toll could be much higher. But tonight, I want to tell you about the other victims of the storm. They survived the hurricane but they could not survive the misery that followed. CNN's Drew Griffin has more on the disturbing suicides out of New Orleans.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This story of Dr. James Kent Treadway is closely woven to the state of his city. These pictures of debris, disaster and despair are New Orleans closing in on five months after Katrina. In many areas, it looks like the storm hit yesterday.

TYRA TREADWAY, WIDOW: Depression is...

GRIFFIN: Tyra Treadway is a Katrina survivor.

TREADWAY: ... you think you're having a good day when you see a street that's cleaned, and you drive three blocks down and you see people out there trying to clean and sweep the sidewalk next to two stories of debris on the street, because they just want one little section to say, "It's mine. It's clean. And it doesn't have sheetrock dust on it."

GRIFFIN: It was in this environment of dust and debris that Tyra Treadway came home last November 16th and found her husband dead. For most of their 33-year marriage, he was one of the city's most prominent pediatricians, a man whose roots went back five generations and whose father started the practice he took over.

Now, he had hanged himself.

His wife, says the doctor, had been suffering debilitating back pain for three years, but it was the pain that came from Katrina that Dr. Kent, as he was called, could no longer take.

TREADWAY: And actually, the only time that he was -- would really not focus on the pain and stuff is when he was with these patients.

GRIFFIN: His house was damaged but survived, his office flooded but also survived. What did not survive was his practice. Parents fled New Orleans, taking their children, his patients, with them.

Dr. Treadway was advised to retire, to start accepting disability payments, and to begin taking stronger pain medication. Instead, he took his life.

TREADWAY: But when you don't give anybody hope of leading somewhat of a life with dignity, you can't expect people to just exist.

DR. FRANK MINYARD, ORLEANS PARISH CORONER: In the past, we have not had this many professional people at one time commit suicide.

GRIFFIN: Since November 10th, the day New Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard began counting the dead as non-Katrina related, two lawyers and three doctors have killed themselves.

MINYARD: I don't know the mental status of these people prior to them doing the act, but I know a little bit about what happened to them. And it's obviously Katrina-related. People have lost their jobs. People have lost their homes. People have lost their loved ones.

GRIFFIN: Minyard says he helped talked a friend, a business owner, out of suicide. Many people, he says, are finding post-Katrina New Orleans just too much to handle.

MINYARD: I'm acutely aware of that, that the storm really precipitated these feelings. I mean, I've had them myself, just the fact that my office has been destroyed and, you know, my daughter's home has been destroyed. So I've had feelings of like that myself.

GRIFFIN: The coroner says that, for professionals who thrive on controlling situations, the storm was devastating. He fears the suicides are not over, but no one wants to deal with the problem. Politicians keep saying things are getting better.

(on-screen): But despite the billions of dollars pledged to bring this city back and the millions of dollars being sent to clean it up, people in New Orleans say, "Look around. The garbage is still everywhere," a visual sign that things are not improving. And that, they say, is the biggest problem. New Orleans is a city without hope.

CECILLE TEBO, GRIEF COUNSELOR: The psychological implications, the grief, and the loss, and the emotional rollercoaster for some is simply beyond their ability to cope. Kids that aren't doing well, their parents aren't doing well.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Cecille Tebo is a grief counselor for the New Orleans Police. The department lost two officers to suicide since the storm. She says she has been deeply depressed herself and every day is conscious of living in a destroyed city.

TEBO: Oh, god, our Steinway. My husband is a beautiful, beautiful pianist. This is our -- this is the tragedy here.

GRIFFIN: Her home was flooded. She's just learned her neighborhood could be bulldozed into a city park. The garbage isn't picked up. When she tries to get help repairing her house, FEMA and insurance companies, she says, put her on hold for hours, and insurance adjusters and contractors repeatedly don't show up for appointments. This is her new New Orleans.

TEBO: To me, it's abusive. It's like being in a really bad abusive relationship. Whereas as a counselor, I encourage people to get out of those relationships. So it's like, you know, the thought would be, "Get out. Don't do it."

GRIFFIN (on-screen): But you can't get out of your insurance. You can't get out of your building permits. You can't get out of -- for most people -- New Orleans.

TEBO: Right, so people kill themselves. That's how they get out. They just kill themselves.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Tyra Treadway says she saw that frustration and depression building in her husband, and they did seek help. Two psychiatrists, she says, told them he would be all right. Now she wonders whether anyone in New Orleans will ever be all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too depressing.

GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin, CNN, New Orleans.


COOPER: It really is hard to imagine what it is like here unless you have been here. And people who are here want people to come, they want people to visit, they want people to volunteer, because God knows they need the help down here.