How America's mental health system fails to protect you from murderers like this man


Well, clearly this is a problem that the free market will solve (as it solves all problems), but in the meantime, he just needs to pull himself up by his bootstraps, stop being poor, and buy insurance!

Really, though, this is sad and infuriating, and makes me feel helpless. How are we supposed to get people to care about mental health problems when we can’t even agree that it’s a good idea for everybody to have access to healthcare for problems people can see?


It’s ok really, he doesn’t shoot people, he only stabs them.


It’s worse than that: apparently our facility for risk assessment, or our ability to act rationally based on it, is so compromised that our relatively plushly funded ‘security’ apparatuses are too busy chasing invisible terrorists and buying APCs to succeed at mitigating the risks of somebody who has already killed somebody and reports that he wishes to be institutionalized because the voices in his head continue to urge further violence.

Even if one actively enjoys watching the weak plummet through the safety net, that’s just plain idiotic. If one does possess some civilized sentiments, it’s idiotic and tragic.


I wonder if part of the reason we arent interested in trying to fix this stems from the fact that many of us no longer trust the people who might be put in charge.Improving the mental health care system would likely require new laws defining how and on whom incarceration would be mandated.Would Snowden or some of the people in the Occupy movement be eligible if authorities have this as a option.We are in a weird place as a society,many of us believe thing need to change but we don’t see any leaders who are capable of looking beyond their brand and what’s good for them.

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While institutions have a stigma from hell for those who need them such a place is a gift. I spent 20 years working in an old rural state hospital whose original buildings were erected in 1869. When new it maintained close to 1000 acres and was a self sufficient community. From livestock to orchards and vegetables, carpentry and furniture it could and did stand alone. Workers were housed there on it’s pastoral grounds and the old cemetery is still maintained. What a shame that concept was discarded. Was it flawed? Yep. Sure was. Did it give safety and security for residents and staff. Yes it did that and allowed for the dignity of work and comfort too. It needs to be reinvented and kept out of the greedy hands of privatized care which can not work for such a need. Not everything in life needs to show a profit to have worth.


At least it is being recognized that he is committing these acts because of mental illness… Usually “crime committed because of mental illness” is something reserved for white males – non-whites typically commit crimes because they are gang-banging thugs, drug-addicts, terrorists, etc.

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Which is more expensive… institutionalizing this dangerous man, or everybody buys guns? Clearly the former, if you represent certain interests.


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Part of the weirdness, is a backlash against the bad old days when confinement “for their own good” could extend to kids who simply disobeyed their parents. We think of expanding the capacity to confine people like this, it carries a whole lot of emotional baggage. (which seriously needs to be moved through, really)

Another facet of the weirdness, relates to the question of, “Who do we build these places for? The people on the inside, or the people on the outside?” There’s an enormous amount of cognitive dissonance around this question. Again, something I wish we could process as a democracy, not just a captive marketplace.

Basically, all the weird head games having to do with prison, are even weirder when they’re about mental health.

Ah! yes, I am reminded of Foucault’s ‘Ship of Fools’ with the goal being not to treat or rehabilitate the ill but to ostracize them. The societal goal being in line with Freud’s notions of taboo - the goal is to separate the insane from society so that they cannot infect the rest of the community.


It’s also worth mentioning that, while some institutions did (and some probably still do) earn that stigma, their role in ‘caring’ for psych cases too difficult for outpatient tends to fall to prisons.

And if you have concerns about the quality of care, degree of respect for patient agency, mere physical safety, and so on, of institutions, you’ll love the local penal facility’s capacity for mental health care(and odds are that if your state didn’t give a damn, and ran hideous mental institutions, it probably also has some…issues…in terms of prison quality).

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It’s very hard to move past these thoughts when we can look at the current prison system. Obviously our idea of who to incarcerate, under what conditions and why is still pretty broken.

This is it. Presumably they would.

I wish that authorities gave us more reason to trust them, but they don’t. I’m not saying the current “solution” is the best one. The government is perfectly capable of persecuting (and executing) people that disagree with it without corrupt mental health facilities to stick them in. I think having enough facilities to at least house the people who have killed before and swear they will do it again is obviously a good idea. It’s just no wonder that we are worried about how they will be used.

If there was such a dichotomy, I would rather have universal mental health care alone than one that supported everything but. I don’t know all of why mental healthcare has gotten so bad, but there is no real option for most people needing treatment.

Here’s an excellent (and current) report on the problem from the Treatment Advocacy Center.

It openly discusses the numbers involved, treatment of patients/inmates, and need to correct (as well as how to fix) this situation.

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