Seidemann: Intervening before it's too late


What a week. We transition from Ted Williams to the shooting in Tuscon, Arizona. For those of you who missed it, Ted Williams is, or should I say was, a homeless unemployed former radio station employee who had hit rock bottom. Drugs and alcohol had taken over his life and he spent his days panhandling on the streets of my hometown, Columbus, Ohio.

He carried a sign which boasted of a gift he had from G-d, a magical voice tailor-made for TV and radio. A passing motorist who just happened to work for the local paper, the Columbus Dispatch, gave Ted a few dollars and asked to hear his voice. Within a day the Youtube video went viral. Ted was flown to New York, appeared on “The Today Show,

“The Jimmy Fallon Show” and was flooded with new job offers.

Over 11 million people have seen the video and heard his voice. Hard knocks turned into firm offers including a job with Kraft Cheese and the Cleveland Cavaliers. If you want to cry, google his interviews with “The Today Show” staff. If you want to ball uncontrollably, view the video of him reuniting with his mother who he hasn’t seen in 20 years. She is in her 90s and they wept as they embraced.

There are so many potential heroes in that story: Ted, his mother, those that offered him employment or the driver who passed by and gave Ted two dollars and videotaped him. This is one of the all-time greatest feel-good stories I’ve ever heard.

Fast forward a few days. Six dead, 14 injured in one of the all-time feel-bad stories in recent memory.

Two troubled individuals: Ted Williams and Jared Lee Loughner. The warning signs were there years ago for both of them. One was able to extricate himself from destroying himself before it was too late, the other couldn’t be reached before he destroyed countless lives.

Problems rarely pop up overnight. Troubled adults usually start off as troubled adolescents or children. We are not all trained professionals but certain indications, certain trends, certain behaviors should raise our antennas and demand some sort of intervention or response.

And so it pains me to a degree to share the following, but I feel it necessary so perhaps intervention can take place.

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