Thursday, August 23, 2007

$5 million band- aid

In the wake of the Samuel Kapp’s suicide in Olympia, Washington, state officials are examining Washington’s bridges. On Wednesday, Kapp, a 32-year-old man with schizophrenia, committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.

In Seattle, officials have already installed signs and an emergency phone on the Aurora Bridge which averages four suicides each year. City officials are considering adding $5 million of fencing to make it more difficult for people to jump.

Deterrents such as fencing and signs are fine, but do little to help the person who has a severe mental illness and is suicidal. Better to tear down real barriers to treatment. This “solution” is a band-aid that doesn’t even begin to touch the much deeper issues of treatment for severe mental illness.

A $5 million fence is an awfully expensive band-aid.

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