Reader Emails

“Reader Emails” & Final Reaction to the Family Letters from Last Week

I think those of you that have read me long enough know what a huge “24” fan I am. It’s my favorite show of all time, followed by “Friday Night Lights,” then “Lost.” Well, since channel 500 on DirecTV likes to show like 2 episodes a day of “24,” they get me hooked every time. I think they’re running season 7 episodes right now, and I started watching them a couple weeks ago. Well, once I did, 2 episodes at a time wasn’t enough. Since I own every season, I basically just finished off season 7 two weekends ago. Then this past weekend I watched all of season 8. I know, I like to binge watch. It’s an addiction. Anyway, I’d forgotten how good those seasons were. I know long time fans may have been upset once David Palmer was out of the picture, but I’m telling you, if you re-watch those seasons, they are just as good. It’s definitely a different show in seasons 7 and 8 as it was in seasons 1 & 2, but still pretty great nonetheless. And if you’ve never seen any of the seasons, well, then you’re a horrible person and I don’t think it’s possible that me and you could ever be friends. It’s entirely unlike any other show ever made because of its format and I doubt anyone will repeat it. You are missing out. Go get started now. You can thank me later. I didn’t lead you astray on FNL. I’m certainly not going to lead you wrong on “24,” although they are entirely different shows.

Your RHOBH recap from Nell Kalter is up now. You can read it right here. Don’t forget to send in any “Dr. Reality Steve” love/sex/marriage/relationship questions you may have that you want answered tomorrow. Plenty of time to get stuff in today.

Lets immediately get started this week with your “Reader Emails.” Since I posted the letters from Dustin’s family last Tuesday, and people only had a day to get in their reactions to it, some of you didn’t give me your thoughts until after I posted last weeks “Reader Emails.” So this first page of emails is strictly just reaction from people who wanted to give their thoughts on what they thought of the letters. Some agree, some disagree. These are the last ones I will be printing, but since they came last Wednesday and into Thursday after the column was already posted, I figured I can let you read them this week. I did not leave my thoughts on any of them since I’m guessing you know by now what my feelings are towards the whole situation. Enjoy…

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I just wanted to say that I think it’s so awesome, and a testament to your character, that Dustin Kinney’s family and close friend trusted you enough to approach you with the truth about their son/friend/brother. You reach so many people by what you do (and yes, most of it is the fun break in all of our work days as we read your posts), but this is proof that you really do impact people on other levels as well. So for that, thank you and you should be proud of it.

Now to REALLY digress, I think Chris would have been better off trying that dating website, Farmers Only. Every time I hear the commercial (sadly, their jingle gets stuck in my head for 24 hours every. damn. time.), I think he would have been the perfect poster child. Not to mention, much more likely to find someone that’s willing to move to the middle of bumblef*ck for him.

Keep doing what you’re doing. I love that you’re posting 4 days a week now.
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Steve,

I am so stunned by reaction to these letters – speechless! I hope the family doesn’t read the comments and further add to their pain. Please let them know there are some who feel and understand their pain and completely understand their efforts to speak up for their loved one and try to set the record straight. There are so many reasons to believe what they are saying. I am more and more disgusted by the lengths to which the network and contestants will go to fill their pockets, ego, and/or their own personal agendas. So glad you clearly see the light and had no problem sharing these letters per the family’s request. My heart goes out to them!
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Hi Steve,

Just wanted to say that I think it’s great that you give everyone a voice and platform to express opinions. It was so nice/considerate that you allowed Juelia’s husband’s family to have their say about their son/brother/friend. He was clearly a kind and compassionate person and I am truly sorry for their loss. I’ll be curious to see what everyone else thinks, hopefully in a respectful way as this was her tragedy too.

Did anyone else find it odd that the family seemed really upset Juelia shared details about how he died, because even family did not know details prior to last weeks episode? I almost got the impression that they wanted everything to be kept hush hush. I used to think it was so strange that girls would go on this show after experiencing such tragedy, but my coworker pointed out that maybe some people can only escape the pain by escaping reality all together. Maybe it was therapeutic for her to talk about it, especially if she didn’t feel she could talk freely with family and friends. Ultimately, this is what happened to her and she has every right to share her story. Of course only knowing Chris for a couple of days and telling him at a pool party is hardly the time or place, but I suspect that had more to do with being isolated and having a producer convince you it’s a bright idea. If she had made it to the final two and shared this story with Chris would it have been as inappropriate then?

I also got the sense that some of the family cited marriage troubles as the final straw for Dustin, and Juelia’s complacency as an agent allowing this to happen. This could easily be turned around on them, if they knew him so well why weren’t they able to step in and help? The point I am trying to make is that when suicide happens, it is not anyone’s fault, it is the result of mental illness and should serve as lesson to everyone to get help before it is too late.

Lastly, I think it is wrong that his family wrote “he did so believing in giving up his life she would have a better one. He thought it would make her life better”. Not only does it give way to the notion that his suicide was a noble sacrifice, but it probably makes her feel like crap and that she is to blame.

Anyway, I just thought I would share my thoughts so that people do not read these letters and begin attacking her. No one is perfect and she might not have had the most sense when she shared this story on the bachelor, but she has suffered too.
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Reality Steve,

I have been reading your site for years, but this is the first time I am emailing in because one thing about the horrible Juelia/Dustin/Suicide/Response situation has struck a nerve with me. Here’s my sarcastic question: Did Justin’s mom, friend, and sister forget to include the confidentially agreement, that Juelia clearly must have signed, stating that in the event Dustin committed suicide, Juelia would not share the method in which he died? Look, I know she’s hurting and they are hurting, but come on. That’s an unreasonable expectation.

Yes, Juelia should have known she was primarily cast to tell her story about Dustin’s suicide. She should have known that regardless of what she actually said in her conversations, it would be sliced and diced for America’s entertainment. If she understood this and participated anyway, then that’s despicable. However, Dustin was her husband and the father of her child, thus his death is part of her life. In my opinion, she has the right to share that with whoever she wants, whenever she wants. Can we argue that it’s not always appropriate, respectful, etc.? Yeah, sure. But it’s part of her story.

When Dustin chose to marry Juelia and have a child with her, she became his family, too. He clearly had a certain amount of respect for her. His mom, friend, and sister are entitled to their wish for privacy. Yet, Juelia was part of his family too and obviously did not agree that it was necessary to keep the gun a secret. The mom, friend, and sister had no right to throw her under the bus for sharing this detail unless (sarcastically) she violated some type of confidentially agreement. You cannot fault her for having a difference of opinion. The letters called Juelia out for actions that they think contributed to his death. I do not know the truth behind her behavior, but this was a red flag to me indicating that his mom, friend, and sister might have unreasonable demands/expectations of her.
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Hi Steve,

I just noticed the letters on your site that Dustin’s family and friends wrote to you. First off, I want to say that it’s extremely painful to read those letters knowing how much pain and grief is behind them. It’s very obvious that Dustin was loved and cherished by many and his decision to end his life has left a devastating impact on many. I’m writing to say that I support your decision to publish the letters they sent you. Like you said, they needed someone to be their voice since no one from the Bachelor reached out to them for their input. I watched the scene where Juelia discusses in depth her husband’s suicide and I felt very sorry for her but I also felt even more sorry for her daughter and his family and friends. I couldn’t believe how poorly this scene was portrayed on the show and it makes me quite sick to think the show’s producers didn’t handle this serious situation in a better manner. All they care about is drama and viewership above all else. They have completely crossed the line in terms of respect and dignity towards others. All I can say is I hope going forward, after this season is done and over with, Dustin’s family and Juelia can come together and forgive each other so they can all be part of Ireland’s life. Her daughter is too young now to understand but someday she will want to know about her dad and his family and know they love her. I can’t even type anymore because I have tears in my eyes right now and my heart really breaks for them all.
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Hi Steve — I just wanted to thank you for
printing the responses of Dustin’s loved
ones to Juelia’s conversation with Chris
about her husband’s suicide. Surviving
suicide is a tragedy for everyone involved
and for whatever reason Juelia chose to
recount her experience in the way that
she did, it was important to hear how
5-minutes of reality TV affected the other loved ones in Dustin’s life. My heart goes out to all of them, and Juelia too. Grief is a difficult
and often mysterious emotion when
losses happen naturally. Suicide is
not natural, it’s deeply
personal and in my opinion,
this was a highly sensitive situation that
should not have been aired on national
television. It made me very uncomfortable
to watch and even more so to hear of the
family heartbreak caused in part by such
cavalier behavior. It’s just wrong on so
many levels. But before I start sounding
too moralistic, holier than thou, I’m just
expressing my opinion on something I
watched on national TV. And if I were to
have a point of writing this it would be …
producers, Juelia, or anyone looking for
airtime on reality TV please do not do it
at somebody else’s expense, especially
when they are no longer here to defend
themselves. Consider the consequences.

So Steve, I don’t always agree with
everything you say but I do want to
express my gratitude for publishing the
letters of Dustin’s loved ones in their
entirety.

Sincerely,
A satisfied reader
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Hi Steve,

As a mother who has just gotten through the first year of my 28 year old daughter’s suicide, I sympathize with this family of Dustin Kinney. I applaud you for printing in full these letters! That was truly kind and thoughtful of you to do. How he was portrayed was not at all what these letters present. I rather wonder if producers egged her on to do this, although she does seem selfish and self-centered from the letters.

My daughter went through years of difficulties, in between times of total sanity, all of which I thought she would get through as she grew older. She had a genius IQ, was highly creative with a cutting edge “hipness” to her, yet intellectually brilliant. And Drop-dead gorgeous on top of it all. I can’t tell you how hard it is to struggle with these dichotomies in a loved one.

I personally didn’t hide the facts of my daughter’s death (shooting herself also) from anyone. Despite my personal horrendous grief, I put feelings aside and talked to anyone who wanted to speak with me. Especially her friends. I did this so they could make as much sense about this all, learn from it and talk it out with “the source”. I cried in every conversation. But I knew I would help others most if I did this. EVERY one who spoke to me was and is grateful for this. So to each his own about sharing details. It is hard to fault Jeulia for speaking what to her is the truth. Putting it on TV with the family’s disapproval…that is shameful though. She HAD to have known this would come up. It is insensitive, in my opinion.

I don’t know quite why I am writing except to say it really wonderful that you dedicated that much space to this family to say these things. It also invites discussion that just may help some person sitting on the fence out there. Hopefully you have saved a life or two. I would like to think so.

I still await the report of who may have gotten my daughter’s body parts, which she too would have thought was “cool”. As a mother, this was horrible to get through a detailed hour long interview about her medical history and what parts I was willing to give away and such just hours after her death. I had not slept all night when I got the call asking if I was willing to do this. I did it, despite my grief, as every family who has made this choice do. It is rather disturbing to do at your most vulnerable state imaginable. I’m glad this came out in the letters. Perhaps it may help others who have to make this very, very difficult decision and process. I’m proud that I did.

Who knows, Steve, may your site will do more than just entertain is with your smart-ass snarkey and thoroughly entertaining remarks! Who knew this could happen when you started out for fun!
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Hey Steve,

I’m glad you posted the letters from Dustin’s family, but having an ex with severe depression I feel a need to defend Juelia a bit. Depressed people are often drawn to very open people. People are often attracted to those who balance us out. And the show manipulates people to open up quickly, whether that’s a wise idea or not. Yes, Juelia was too open and somewhat immature, but I find it both understandable and a sign she was being honest. It was clear to me that they had a very long conversation that was edited to include only the most dramatic parts, which would certainly seem cheap to family. I don’t think it was a wise choice for Juelia to go on the show at all, but I don’t blame her for doing so. She was a victim in a horrible situation. And I’m not sure the producers had the worst of intentions for airing it the way they did. Yes, it was dramatic. But suicide has touched the show and society at large in the past year, so it’s possible some producer wanted it to be a more open topic.

Whether they mean to or not, depressed people often do what they can to suck others into their illness by blaming the people who love them for their own issues. Expressing frustration about a screaming baby means you are putting too much pressure on them. Being in a new job is too much pressure. Every aspect of life is too much pressure. You have to give them boundaries, and when they ignore them you can either accept blame for things that are not your fault or you can threaten to leave. Juelia was probably only protecting herself and her child the best way she knew how.

The idea that Dustin chose to die for her and her child is completely ridiculous. He was mentally ill, so perhaps his responsibility for his actions was diminished. But ultimately he made an incredibly selfish decision. The fact that the family is more angry at her for talking about how he hurt her than they are at him for denying his child a father is incredibly sad to me.

I also want to recommend a couple of books for anyone who finds themselves in a relationship with a depressed person. The first is Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. The second is called Stop Walking on Eggshells by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger. It’s intended for those dealing with someone with borderline personality disorder, but it is quite common for those with severe depression to have traits of BPD in the worst phases of depression.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. hattiebloom

    February 4, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    I don’t necessarily mind that Steve gave the family of what’s his name a platform to speak, but when the tone of the letters turned to the clearly existing family beef with Juelia—ya lost me. They lost me.

    I agree with the letter writer about Witney not being attractive. I don’t find her attractive at all. I also think she’d look a lot better as a brunette.

    Andi and Josh’s problem was Andi and Josh. Two big self important egos does not a healthy relationship make. They were doomed.

    I have Raynaud Syndrome…..I guess. My fingers go numb as easily as holding a cold drink. It’s not a big deal in the big scheme of things……in fact, I would probably never name it or claim it. There are many other real health issues. This ain’t one of ’em.

    Dear Lord, please don’t let Britt be Bachelorette. I would have to take an anti-nausea tablet before each show. She’s a wannabe and a phony…..as many are…..but girl makes it real obvious.

  2. arod

    February 4, 2015 at 10:37 AM

    Hi Steve,

    Just curious – since both the contestants and the producers are fully aware how bad they are making the contestants look – how do they remain friends? Especially Courtney Robertson, I mean she sounds pretty pissed at the show in her book, and then went to the premiere and posted photos with Elan…

    Also, I have this feeling that Michelle Money really wants to be Bachelorette, and would make a very entertaining season.

  3. vessel

    February 4, 2015 at 10:59 AM

    I love Michelle Money but she’s 34 years old. They have never had a female lead even close to that old before.

  4. angelfish

    February 4, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    Michelle is way too overexposed within the Bachelor franchise and has left too many previous bachelor bodies in her wake. Talk about being a “Black Widow!”

    They might as well just hire her to be Chris Harrison’s co-host on the next BIP. That way she can get at the guys she hasn’t managed to bag yet.

  5. gerty2

    February 4, 2015 at 1:11 PM

    I am also beginning to think that the producers may need to go back to old seasons of The Bachelor to find their next Bachelorette. Has there been another season with so many train wreck women? My thinking right now is maybe Nikki Ferrell… I feel like they spent A LOT of time talking to her at the season premiere and so many people feel sorry for her dating Juan Pablo… And she was surprisingly well spoken and professional in all her after-the-breakup interviews…

  6. vessel

    February 4, 2015 at 1:40 PM

    Nikki has made it very clear she can’t stand being under constant public scrutiny, and she loathes being followed around by cameras. Imo she’d not be high on their list of choices. Plus she’s very difficult and demanding, and isn’t a “fan favorite.” Too bad Renee from Juan Pablo’s season got married, she’d probably have been a popular choice. Honestly I can’t think of anyone from the past few seasons as a likely candidate. It’s always so obvious whom they will choose, it’s kind of interesting to have no clear choice this time!

  7. angelfish

    February 4, 2015 at 2:03 PM

    Totally agree, vessel.

    Nikki & Juan Pablo were on “Couples Therapy” as a direct result of The Bachelor, and she was as bitchy, difficult and uncomfortable there. She may still be TB “family”, but I can’t see ABC ever putting her in a lead role.

  8. rob22

    February 4, 2015 at 3:59 PM

    The emailer that didn’t like the term “lady bits”…. what alternative is she suggesting? Landing strip? Glory hole, maybe?

  9. vessel

    February 4, 2015 at 4:15 PM

    “lady bits” annoys me, too. I had to agree when they said it makes them cringe. me too. There has to be a better alternative.

  10. angelfish

    February 4, 2015 at 4:36 PM

    The term “genitalia” is anatomically correct and pretty much encompasses all the “bits”. But it’s kind of a grown-up word…I don’t know if it belongs in this franchise….*LOL*

  11. gobsmacked

    February 4, 2015 at 7:10 PM

    The reaction to the whole conversation about suicide online everywhere just proves how sensitive and ridiculous it was of the producers to put it in the show. Agree with the writer saying it’s not a natural death and seemingly creates more pain for probably everyone. This season we have Kelsy the Widow, Julia the Widow, while most people are upset about how they both acted on the show, reactions seem very different. Kelsey being called out for her odd behavior and “awesome story” comment, I guess one can’t say anything positive about their husband’s death. and Julia, the insensitive, untruthful one using her kid against the dad’s family. Chris escapes both women which would have been a nightmare.

    This season ABC has got to love the ratings so the drama is working. Surely Kelsy’s on her way out so we can get down to the final for and see the Brit, Jade, Whitney finals. Jade, even with her past, would make a good Bachelorette. All the guys would know what they’re gettin’ and no reason to think it wouldn’t be steamy.

    I think Chris and Whitney might have a chance, she appears to be willing to wait it out. Chris though, is he really a catch?

  12. missannmcd

    February 9, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    The following is an excerpt from a letter posted by RS from a viewer:
    “The idea that Dustin chose to die for her and her child is completely ridiculous. He was mentally ill, so perhaps his responsibility for his actions was diminished. But ultimately he made an incredibly selfish decision. The fact that the family is more angry at her for talking about how he hurt her than they are at him for denying his child a father is incredibly sad to me.”
    I see things similarly with the poster although I disagree with the selfish aspect. I see suicide as a desperate action taken when a person either can’t see a way to go, a way out, or can’t imagine living with the outcome. A divorce or death of a loved one or living a life of what feels to them, filled with grief, pain, loneliness, depression, poor health or any other condition that has gone on for long periods of time. People lose hope! They are overwhelmed and just want it to all stop. Speaking personally, I admit I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts half of my life. To those I love and return love to me; I could not hurt them by ending my life. I would rather suffer through living than to suffer them by dying. As for the parents of Dustin, I think by romanticizing his intent to end his life (so hers/baby life will improve), they are in a form of denial. Hopefully, it will be resolved in the process of grief. His death is not a benefit to others in the way they are perceiving it.

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