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How Do We Deal with the Violently Mentally Ill?

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Replies to: How Do We Deal with the Violently Mentally Ill?

  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15791 replies1056 threads Senior Member
    I have seen on social media discussing this murder in Winchester that as people have tried to mention the mental illness of this young man, others have denounced them for blaming his act on mental illness. They accuse posters of trying to stereotype the mentally ill as violent. Mental illness is not synonymous with violence of course but to some even linking the two in this situation gets posters blasted for being insensitive. To these advocates for the mentally ill we are not even supposed to mention the link.

    If we are not even supposed to mention mental illness how are the potentially violent mentally ill supposed to get help?
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  • gouf78gouf78 7870 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    ", an inordinate amount of the budget would be consumed by indefinite commitments in locked, secure settings which would result in a lack of treatment "
    Already have this--it's called jail. It's cheaper than psychiatric care.

    I think the main issue is simply cost. Both federal and state governments closed institutions because of the cost for long term care. We already know how expensive nursing home care is--now extend those costs to long term care for the mentally ill. Cheaper to lock them in jail or let them be homeless (it's estimated that a third to a half of homeless people are mentally ill).

    Right now if someone is violent we lock them up in jail. But for how long? Unfortunately until an act is committed nothing much can be done by law enforcement.
    And if you could easily say "so and so" needs locking up then who gets that final say?
    The sad part is that there are people who would voluntarily commit themselves to get some help and even they don't have a place to go.
    edited February 2018
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  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys 16651 replies66 threads Senior Member
    Well frankly only a sicko would go out and shoot up a bunch of people. Sometimes you have to put aside the PC stuff to solve a problem. I am vehemently anti gun but that is only a piece of the issues and simply allows a violent person to kill more people. That is a somewhat hard core statement probably more than I feel but the heart of the issue is mental illness. “Sicko” is not a polite word but that does not change the issue. And not all mentally ill people are violent or have the propensity to be violent so there is that issue too. We have come so far from the 60s in terms of diagnostics and medication and awareness I feel like there is a solution in the middle somewhere besides denial or over-concern about stigma.
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  • AroundHereAroundHere 3601 replies22 threads Senior Member
    It's mainly a problem because as a country we refuse to invest money in it. Healthcare is for everyone remains extremely controversial and therefore hard to spend tax money on. Mental healthcare has even less money in its system than physical healthcare.

    There is no reason besides unwillingness to spend money to make them better that mental health hospitals have been horrific.
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  • gouf78gouf78 7870 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018

    There is actually a 911 call to police from the high school shooter asking for help about a month prior. It's very sad. They should've been able to send him somewhere.
    edited February 2018
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15791 replies1056 threads Senior Member
    @doschicos Actually it was both. Liberals were glad that the "snake pits' were being closed. Conservatives were glad that the government would be saving money. Attempts to put the blame on one side will not solve anything but rather further the national divide.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 19842 replies164 threads Senior Member
    Because we don't have a way to deal with mentally ill people who commit violent crimes, they end up locked up in prison after they commit the crimes, and get no treatment, even if treatment would help them.

    But still, we have to distinguish between mentally ill people who have committed crimes, and mentally ill people who have not committed crimes. If we want to lock up people who are dangerous, we need stringent criteria for dangerousness. Law enforcement in the past has not been good at distinguishing odd people, annoying people or non-white people from dangerous people.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 26681 replies268 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    I think some were more in the improve the "snake pits" camp and provide other services actually rather than a dump them on the street approach. The dumping was hardly more humane than poorly run institutions. Let's look at history critically and the effects it has had since then if you truly want to understand the issues rather than reverting to "further the national divide" talk, which basically is an attempt to shut down conversation and retrospective analysis, IMO. This is something that happened almost 40 years ago and understanding the ramifications of it is important to finding solutions today.
    edited February 2018
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15791 replies1056 threads Senior Member
    @doschicos Retrospective analysis of often tinged with a reinterpretation of the facts to fit preconceived notions.
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  • gouf78gouf78 7870 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    You'll have to start further back than 40 years ago. Try almost 60 years ago.
    edited February 2018
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  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys 16651 replies66 threads Senior Member
    Agree there should be stringent guidelines. It is pretty scary for hospitals with behavioral units to have a violent person but have to release them after x days because the parent or the significant other demand it or there is no where to send them...until they become violent or burn down something or worse and then the courts can demand the outcome. There are almost always warning signs but sometimes people shut their eyes or like you said it is just difficult to tell the odd from the dangerously odd.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15791 replies1056 threads Senior Member
    Getting back to the Winchester incident there is this article in the Boston Herald that states "The woman said she and her neighbors tried to warn Winchester police but were told they were aware of Yao’s behavior and had been shadowing him when he leaves his house at night."
    http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2018/02/neighbors_thought_he_would_kill_somebody
    i read the article first an hour ago and they have since edited that sentence to exclude "police told neighbors not to worry".
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  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    Before the crime, the criminal exhibited warning signs X, Y and Z. Therefore, people who do X, Y and Z should be locked up. But this lazy analysis never tells us how many people did X, Y and Z and did not go on to commit violent crimes.

    This.
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  • gouf78gouf78 7870 replies24 threads Senior Member
    "until they become violent or burn down something or worse and then the courts can demand the outcome. "

    "Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness" is a fascinating read that I highly recommend.
    It really highlights the problems that both courts and families face with this issue.

    From the amazon site: "Former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley had written extensively about the criminal justice system. But it was only when his own son--in the throes of a manic episode-broke into a neighbor's house that he learned what happens to mentally ill people who break a law."

    Basically his son with known issues whom he took care of (which was harder when his son became of adult age and the health care system didn't allow him full access to health decisions anymore) was arrested for breaking into a neighbor's house. No harm was done but the neighbors pressed charges and his son was arrested.
    A fascinating and heart breaking read from someone who already knew the system. (You have to imagine how it is for someone who doesn't already know the criminal system.)

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  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys 16651 replies66 threads Senior Member
    It does sound like a good read will look for it. Off the cuff though if he had broken into my house because the father was not in a position to care for him I would probably have also pressed charges to keep him from breaking into other houses for at least enough time for the father to figure out a solution and I would be scared for my safety...but hard to say without reading the book.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 26681 replies268 threads Senior Member
    Someone earlier commented that it was cheaper to jail someone than provide psychiatric care. Is that really true? And are there ways to do so more efficiently?

    Incarceration isn't cheap. The average nationwide is up to $32K per year and over $70K in some states.
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  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang 19842 replies164 threads Senior Member
    Someone earlier commented that it was cheaper to jail someone than provide psychiatric care.

    It might be cheaper to jail people who turn out to commit crimes than to treat everyone who might commit crimes, because most people who might commit crimes don't commit crimes. But we should treat people with mental illness anyway, because public safety is not the only issue. We should treat people who need treatment to give them a better life.
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