Thursday, October 20, 2005

Children deserve protection

It was a bad week all around.

In Ohio, a man bludgeoned his 13-year old daughter to death – he was not taking his medication for bipolar disorder.

In California, a woman threw her three young children off a pier to their death – she was hearing voices.

By comparison, these stories make this mother from Vermont look lucky – her son was only arrested. But her plea is too familiar.

"I have been trying desperately to get him some medical help but he has been deemed not dangerous enough to be admitted against his will … In the past, when he got appropriate treatment and followed his care plan, he was not having a lot of problems."
Treatment embraced voluntarily is always preferred - but in some cases, the disease may not make that possible. It is time for us to realize that it is just and humane to intervene long before something devastating happens. Did we learn nothing from the Andrea Yates case?

Averting tragedy is not always politically correct. It is not simple, or easy. It often requires family members to petition the court for intervention, and people who are desperately ill to be treated despite refusing treatment. But it works.

MORE: what is it like to hear voices? * help for overwhelmed family members * state laws

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