Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Finger pointing in Oregon

“We all need to take some of the responsibility for society's problems.”
So says the chief executive officer of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in Oregon, in an oped piece today. You’d think the piece would go on to talk about how the community of providers can better help people in crisis. Instead, it spouts the latest provider party line:
“Police need to be able to recognize mental illness and work more effectively with someone who is experiencing a different reality.”
Who is to blame for a tragedy like the recent one in this community?

The writer notes that Project Respond, the crisis intervention group that works with police in crisis situations, was not contacted in the Chasse case.

We hear it all the time. It isn’t our fault because we weren’t called, it isn’t our fault because we don’t have enough resources, it isn’t our fault because the police need to be mental health professionals.

What happened after James P. Chasse was brought into custody was horrible, and answers need to be sought. As law enforcement assesses their policies, their mistakes, and their actions, we think the mental health community – so eager to speak up now – should do the same. Chasse had schizophrenia, and according to one family member, "He was in and out of half-way houses and acute care settings with various medical/psychiatric diagnoses and treatments prescribed."

His death came at the end of a violent struggle. His entire life was a similar battle. The mental health community should step up and assess their role, not in his brutal end, but in his brutal day-to-day life that preceded it.

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