BOSTON (CBS) – About ten years ago I interviewed Delonte West, a guard then playing for the Boston Celtics. I don’t recall what the story was, but he seemed like a very nice young man, well-spoken and friendly.
So I was saddened to hear the news Monday that West was spotted wandering at night around a parking lot in Houston in a hospital robe without shoes on.READ MORE: 'Stigma free zone,' National Alliance on Mental Illness brings back fundraising walk this Saturday in Boston
It seems West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder eight years ago and has struggled with depression over the years. The millions of dollars he made in the pros apparently couldn’t save him from the deteriorated situation he appears to now be in.
It’s an unfortunate story, and not an uncommon one. Mental illness can be an extremely difficult problem, one money and fame can’t necessarily solve.
But my sympathy for West turned to anger and disgust when I started searching the web for more information.
The Boston Globe treated the story as trashy fodder for its celebrity gossip columnist, who managed to handle it with noticeably less class and compassion than even the tabloid website TMZ, where they at least described the situation as “sad” and expressed concern for the man.READ MORE: Young coyote mistaken for dog now bonding with another rescued pup
The Globe’s indifference in this case is, deplorably, more typical of the way we treat the mental illness that plagues our society. At best, we try to ignore it; at worst, we mock it, or shun it, or cluelessly treat it as just another morsel for our garbage-eating culture.
Would we treat a celebrity’s cancer the way the Globe treated Delonte West’s mental illness?
What if it were the gossip columnist’s loved one in that parking lot?
And why, in 2016, do we still have to ask questions like this?
Listen to Jon’s commentary:MORE NEWS: New England Living: Behind the scenes at WaterFire in Providence