With the launch of the Affordable Care Act, we need to begin addressing a much larger issue of help for the mentally ill. Recently there was the tragedy of a woman, Miriam Carey who drove a rented car with her one year old child as a passenger into a barricade near the White House because she had delusions that President Obama was somehow taunting her. She died at the scene, unarmed. She was considered a threat and shot by police. According to her family, she had been suffering from post-partum depression psychosis. Only weeks ago, Aaron Alexis entered the Washington Navy Yard and murdered several people in a psychotic episode. We’ve witnessed far too many of these events in recent years, yet nothing has been done to begin to address the problem. The courts refuse to place the mentally ill under the care of conservators feeling it’s a violation of their rights. If we look back at the Columbine massacre, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colorado, the Gabby Giffords Tucson shootings and Sandy Hook school massacre, we can see clearly that the assailants all suffered from forms of mental illness. They were each prescribed psychotropic medications. The problem is that many patients abruptly stop taking their medication. Many also self-medicate and become poly-addicted to street drugs and alcohol. Side effects can and often do trigger violent behavior.
When mental hospitals were shuttered many of the bipolar and schizophrenic patients were placed in group homes. In most instances problems arose, patients became aggressive and acted out with other residents. Some ended up homeless while many others went to jail. The problem has grown in recent years yet nobody is addressing the problems of the mentally ill. This is approximately 6% of our population. We must have a means of testing our children and tracking those whose psychological profiles raise red flags. Large companies should have their employees talk with a team of social workers and psychologists as well. We cannot set up out patient facilities to monitor patients and expect them to comply. They must be helped and monitored with guidance, care and support. Family members must do a better job of being involved in treatment as well. We cannot permit troubled people like Ariel Castro who held three young women in captivity for years to continue to be a danger to himself or others. James DiMaggio obviously suffered from a mental disorder which went un-detected and ended up kidnapping young Hannah Anderson after he brutally tortured her mother and little brother. We cannot allow at-risk people to go unsupervised and untreated. We would take good care of a family pet and we must begin to take care of the many fragile people in our society.