Thursday, August 27, 2015

It is up to us to demand better training and more treatment

When they don't know what to do ... when our cities and towns don't provide treatment facilities ... police too often shoot. There are remedies.

More than half of all suspects shot and killed by police were suffering from mental illness.

And there are over 300,000 American in prison today that have a mental illness diagnosis – this is crazy.

There is a critical and immediate need for treatment of mental health through a public health system, not the barbaric criminalization of it mental illness we currently see happening all over the United States.

Learn more.


Rain Trueax said...

For anyone who has done much studying regarding mental illness, most of the shootings of rage come from psychopaths. There is a clinical definition for this lack of empathy for others and the attitude that everyone is picking on them, they are superior to the rest of humankind, and all that matters is what they want. Not all psychopaths are murderers but most seemingly senseless mass murderers are psychopaths.

The problem is someone like this last guy, time after time he exhibited his inability to function with others, his easily aroused rage, and yet until he did something catastrophic, nobody could legally stop him. There are mass murderers who have other issues like schizophrenia where reality is confusing to them, but it's not the case with one after another of them. It sounds insane that this guy did, but he had a rental car, tried to kill all three possible witnesses, and even though he taped his act, he may have thought he could get away with it and kill more. The photo the cameraman captured told the newsroom right away who did it; so we won't know what else he would have gone on to do as the police were right on him.

There was a time where America locked up anyone they suspected of being mentally ill, where eugenics and torture were used on those deemed insane, and that abuse led to an extreme the other way where now nobody (including often the family) can do anything until the person kills or physically abuses enough people. It's called freedom, my husband told me. My problem is where is the freedom for those like the cameraman and reporter? The children in SandyHook? There has to be some kind of balance.

When something like this happens, everyone talks gun control-- pro and con; but from what I can tell, this guy, even with increased controls (not happening with the country so divided) could have bought a gun as he had no record. If the country could get its head around it, making the right to buy a gun require two references might stop some (something you need to get a concealed weapon permit in Oregon), but maybe he could have gotten those too. With no gun, a strong man with a sword could still have killed people who are being ambushed. The idea everyone should go armed is naive. The point of a violent ambush, like this was, is you don't have time to react. Besides, not everyone is good with a gun or able to use one even in self-defense.

For me, I keep coming back to better mental health care and an ability to force treatment on someone like the SandyHook murderer-- or this last guy with known rage issues. But I know how the left takes such suggestions regarding taking away our freedoms and with how the right takes any suggestion on limiting access to guns. It stymies anything reasonable that could be done.

Because I've read a lot of books on what makes people violent people tick (writers tend to do that), I think anything with any real hope has to start with our mental health awareness, recognizing warning signs before those people end up with murders. If we could get early recognition of those who are psychopaths (there are some good books out on the condition) and figure out ways to help them go another direction, it'd be good for their lives and those around them. Whether a psychopath is a killer or just someone who mistreats those around them, it's not a healthy condition. I've read more about what the condition is and what it does to others (my kind of fiction needs villains *s*) than about whether you can really cure it. It'd be easier to believe there was a demon in some people and you could exorcise it ;). (No, I don't believe that but it is a simpler view than how the mind really works).

janinsanfran said...

Rain -- thanks for the thoughtful comment. I don't have many ideas in the way of solutions.

About 30 years ago, I found myself in a group which included a gent who had overseen the dismantling of New York State's mental hospitals -- notoriously dismal and sometimes cruel warehouses for the involuntarily confined. He was so proud of what they had done. And certainly something had to be done. But even then, the question remained: now what? We still don't have a clue.

I read an interesting book on sociopathy awhile back that covers much of what you describe. We don't know what to do with these people either.

Several people I've known, however, have had what we now call bi-polar disorders (manic-depressive illness) break through in their 20s with awful consequences. At least two of these seem to be living normal adult lives subsequent to finding the right meds, so there can be hope for these folks if treatment is available.

I suppose once upon a time, the people unlucky enough not to be able to hide their demons were either killed or driven from the community. I remain opposed to our licensing police to kill them today (and to bear the guilt for our social failures.)

Rain Trueax said...

The Arizona historical that I have coming out in November gets into the problem of those with 'differences'. The hero is what today we call mentally challenged and back then a lot less friendly words. I did some research for it as to which direction I might take the story, and looked into the treatment then. Horrifying. I had dealt with it in a secondary character earlier but learned more. I couldn't bear to bring my character into that where often they could never get out once they got put in and it could be just women with depression after a baby or a family member who didn't like that they were different. So I agree, what we used to do didn't work. But something needs to be done when someone is obviously dangerous, as was the most recent killer and yet he's allowed to keep threatening others until he goes too far and kills.

Having had friends with schizophrenia and bi-polar, I know how unpopular those meds are; but without them, they lose track of reality. I accept that better than the ones who know clearly what they are doing and do it anyway out of meanness. I keep thinking the answer is in schools where these things are caught early and without disgrace being attached. The thing is though then it can be anybody who is different, and too quickly turning to pills for a hyperactive child just isn't okay either. The brain is not an easy thing to figure out especially when the thinking goes in directions that endanger themselves and others. Every time something like the last one happens, the whole country is hurt by it :(

Hattie said...

The horrible conditions in Napa and other places led to "reform," which meant throwing people out on the street to perish.
We need to look at Scandanavian models of mental health care. The key is providing housing, food and clothing, pocket money and close supervision by professional social workers who develop stable relationships with these mentally ill people and are responsible for their well being. This makes these difficult and unhappy victims of mental illness part of the social fabric rather than public nuisances or prisoners.

Related Posts with Thumbnails