Monday, August 27, 2007

A sad weekend in California

Families and police officers are two of the groups most at risk for being on the receiving end of violence by those with untreated mental illnesses

In Salinas, John Vierra, a 44-year-old man with schizophrenia fatally stabbed his mother, Maria James. Vierra had stopped taking his medication last spring.

In San Diego, Alan Kosakoff is in critical condition after he was shot by two police officers. Kosakoff, who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, attempted to run over the two officers when they tried to arrest him for driving 114 mph. Kasakoff had not been taking his psychiatric medication.

Today, one California man faces time in prison; the other, if he survives, will also likely face the criminal justice system. Both men were not taking their prescribed medications for severe mental illnesses.

Yet most California counties still haven’t implemented Laura’s Law – a way to get court-ordered outpatient treatment for people with severe mental illnesses. Access to treatment, and to programs such as Assistant Outpatient Treatment, maintain treatment compliance, an important step in helping prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future

Perhaps it’s time to help people in California with severe mental illnesses get treatment, because without it, there are certain to be more sad weekends.

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