On a regular basis, we hear from readers about what they call "the drug problem in Hastings."
People have legitimate concerns about our residents using illegal drugs. There have been high-profile tragedies, losses of life and other close calls.
Residents rally after such incidents. Support groups have formed and meetings are held.
The fight against those drugs is an important one.
But so, too, is our fight against mental illness. Right now, that fight isn't getting nearly the same attention as our fight against drugs, and more people are dying in Hastings every year from mental illness than from drug abuse.
We changed our policy several months ago when it comes to reporting mental health calls handled by the Hastings Police Department. This week, we include in our police report a couple such incidents, including one resident who tried to end his life. The attempt was stopped in time, but it was a close call.
So far as we know, though, there hasn't been an outcry from residents about the frequency with which these instances are occurring, and we are confused by that.
Judging by the most significant indicator -- deaths -- mental health is a bigger problem in Hastings than drugs are.
Certainly, illegal drugs are a concern here, as they are everywhere else. It also needs to be pointed out that mental illness is a concern across America -- it is obviously not a problem unique to Hastings. We also recognize that often times drugs and suicide are tied together.
But that doesn't mean we should sit idly by and watch as our friends and our neighbors take their own lives because of mental health concerns. Let's at least begin to mention mental health in Hastings with the same frequency as illegal drug use.