Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sad ending

Broder suffered from schizophrenia and [authorities] said the area he was discovered in was indicative of somebody who was disoriented, given that it was in an isolated area not accessible by any roads and bordered by swamp land.
Lost man found dead,” Auburn Citizen, January 31, 2006

Read more: Needs treatment, but gone missing

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cost Prohibitive Not to Treat

As of October, Ohio was treating 8,371 mentally ill prisoners to the tune of about $67 million a year.

[Care of mentally ill prisoners costly for jails, Plain Dealer, Jan. 20, 2006]

In 2001, each inmate cost Nebraskans an average of $25,321, compared to the $3,500 per person cost of mental health treatment.

[Jail diversion ‘saved my life,’ woman says, Lincoln Journal Star, Jan. 24, 2006]

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fear of Flying

Seems like in this case, it was lucky there was no air marshal aboard this flight …

PREVIOUSLY ON BLOGTAC: Air marshals kill man with bipolar disorder

Friday, January 20, 2006

Suicide by Cop

Sometimes, people with untreated mental illnesses provoke police into killing them, commonly called “suicide by cop.” This week a man in Texas who was off medication for bipolar disorder threatened a local school in an apparent attempt at suicide by cop.

One study examined more than 430 shootings by Los Angeles County deputies between 1987 and 1997 and found that incidents determined to be suicide by cop accounted for 11 percent of all police shootings and 13 percent of all fatal shootings.

A study in British Columbia found that 10 percent to 15 percent of cases where law enforcement officers acted with deadly force could be considered premeditated suicides.

Suicide by cop or attempts at suicide by cop are just one of the crises that law enforcement officers face each day when dealing with people with untreated mental illnesses.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Needs Treatment … But Gone Missing

Cindy Shannon, 41, is schizophrenic and is on three types of medications. … "I'm just worried about her," Terri Shannon said. "She usually calls. I'm just surprised she hasn't called. I know she doesn't know she's been gone several days. … Terri Shannon said her sister might look unkempt by now and most likely would be talking to herself or she could be panhandling for change or food. … "She's not violent," Terri Shannon said. She worries that people might hurt her sister or that her sister might become a victim of a hit-and-run driver. [San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Jan 12, 2006]

When a family member is missing, time seems to stand still.

We hear too many stories about people with severe mental illnesses who disappear, leaving their family members mired in feelings of panic, worry, helplessness and hopelessness, fear that the police will not find their loved one... and fear that they will find them, after it is too late. Just this month, we’ve seen stories from across the country, like California (they found a missing woman’s clothes, but haven’t yet found her) and Oklahoma (an unhappy ending).

WHY?? In most of these cases, the missing person is unaware that they are sick. They may believe that they are on the run from the CIA or the mafia. This phenomenon — called anosognosia — affects the majority (55 percent) of those not receiving treatment for severe mental illnesses. You cannot convince someone with anosognosia that that they are sick because they fully believe their delusion. In many cases, the only way to get someone with anosognosia into treatment is via a court order.

WHAT CAN I DO?? Because people with anosognosia who are missing are often times constantly on the move, this presents an additional legal challenge to families trying to get their loved one committed — each state has a very specific law in regard to assisted treatment or involuntary commitment. That can make it especially hard on families who are trying to navigate a law they don't know in a state where they don't live.

What can you do if someone you love is missing?

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Insanity Defense: A True Story

[Lori] Farmer says she knows ... the voices weren't real. God would never urge her to hurt someone -- least of all her 4-year-old son, who loved Batman and used to run around in a cape that his grandma made from an old skirt. Zane was buried in his pretend cape 10 years ago. Farmer killed him.

When you read news reports of Andrea Yates’ new trial, keep Lori Farmer in mind. Farmer was found not guilty by reason of insanity and is now living in a group home, after years of treatment in a secure psychiatric facility. Her story is a rare look at the insanity defense from the perspective of the person charged with a crime.

And if the emotions of her story don’t get you, think about this.

People who are treated at places such as Western State Hospital are much less likely to commit another crime than those who land in prison, according to Bruce Gage, supervising psychiatrist for the hospital's Center for Forensic Services. He said most people released from prison will break the law within three years, while the recidivism rate for people found insane and treated at a specialized psychiatric program is less than 5 percent.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

No Beds? Lots of Problems.

Psychiatric hospital after psychiatric hospital have been closed since the 1960s, in large part because of federal funding policies.

Despite the increasingly critical shortage of inpatient capacity, many mental health administrators continue to push for the elimination of more psych beds.

Take Maine’s experience with its new hospital, which replaced a much larger one that was closed. Insufficient capacity in the new hospital forced administrators to turn away 61% of qualified patients seeking admission to the facility in the first month of operation. That isn't a shortage due to changed circumstance, but rather of short-sightedness.

A lack of inpatient facilities doesn't only result in people with psychiatric illnesses ending up in jail … It can also, like in Texas, keep them there.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Kendra's sister remembers

Seven years ago this week, Kendra Webdale was killed by a man with untreated schizophrenia. Most readers of this blog and visitors to the website know the sad story well, as it was the final straw in getting New York to finally pass an assisted outpatient treatment law, aptly named “Kendra’s Law.”

This week, NPR brought us a powerful memory from Kendra’s sister, Kim.

Our hearts go out to the Webdales on this sad anniversary, and every day. Ironically, now each day, many lives are being changed – and saved – in New York in Kendra’s name.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Florida jails are hospitals

"Jails are not hospitals, and they were not designed to be hospitals," said
Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger. But, "They are now the largest
mental health facilities in every county in the state."
- “Care for the mentally ill falls to jails: More than 10 percent of the 8,000 inmates in Hillsborough and Pinellas jails are on psychotropic medication” – St. Petersburg Times, Jan 2, 2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Nontreatment costs more

$40,000: Annual cost to taxpayers for each homeless person who needs but does not receive mental health services. This cost, estimated by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Service, includes 911 calls, emergency room care and jail.

$6,500: Annual cost for each homeless person receiving community mental health services through county providers …
- Dec 31, 2005, Wichita News

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