Murder, Ian Stawicki, and House Bill 3076 June 21, 2012Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Committment Hearing, Involuntary Committment.
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June 21, 2012
Editor, The Seattle Times
Some people blame the City of Seattle for the recent murder of five unsuspecting people by Ian Stawicki. I blame the taxpayers of Washington and the government.
The problem, in a nutshell, is with the mental health system, which was brought on by the State’s refusal to fund a bill that would have had Stawicki involuntarily committed. At the point he was diagnosed as mentally ill (because of the involuntary commitment), he would have been denied the ability to purchase guns as well as been started on a medical treatment for his disorder. Since he was never diagnosed as mentally ill (because House Bill 3076 was never funded), he was not prohibited from possessing a firearm. But because of a lack of funding (and a lack of mental hospital beds), Ian was allowed to roam free, wreaking his havoc among the people in Seattle.
Currently, as the law reads, a person can be involuntarily committed only when a third party, the Designated Mental Health Professional, does an independent assessment of a person who is thought to be an imminent danger to himself or others. This changed with House Bill 3076. In that bill, the DMHP could rely on testimony from friends or family members of those who clearly have a mental illness. As it stands now, input cannot be given by family members or friends of a suspected mentally ill person. But House Bill 3076 changes all of that. With the new bill, however, come costs. The big problem with passing and funding House Bill 3076 is that there aren’t enough hospital beds to take those people who would have been involuntarily committed because of testimony of friends and/or loved ones. So the State acknowledges the need for such a place, but declines to do anything about it.
So when there is a lot of handwringing and rhetoric about the state of the mental health laws, I have little or no sympathy for those doing their handwringing. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness, a grassroots organization for those suffering from mental illness and their friends and loved ones) has testified before Congress at the need for such facilities. But we are always told it is too expensive to fund. This is what happens when needs are ignored. There will be more Ians because of this situation.
Until Congress and the State of Washington take steps to build hospital beds for those people like Ian to go get help, there will be more cases of mental illness-sparked murders. So if we are truly concerned about people like Ian, who clearly have an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness, and his victims, nothing will change.
People on the radio and tv have wrung their hands about people like Ian getting access to firearms. But until House Bill 3076 is funded, there will be no diagnosis of mental illness, and there will be continued access to guns by those with no business owning one.
Precognition and The Minority Report June 12, 2012Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness.
Tags: Hallucinations, mental illness
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Here in Washington, yet another “crazy” person killed five people last week. The murderer’s friends and family say they knew he was a time bomb waiting to explode and tried to notify the proper authorities, but nothing was done. After the crime was committed, there was the usual handwringing and blaming the system for not having the tools in place to stop this crime. Some even suggested that a new department be created so that people could report those with bizarre behavior in order to lock them up before they committed the crime.
It reminds me a little of the plot for “The Minority Report”, a movie starring Tom Cruise. In the movie, people were jailed by police for supposedly intending to create a crime. Plot summary: In the year 2054 A.D. crime is virtually eliminated from Washington D.C. thanks to an elite law enforcing squad “Precrime”. They use three gifted humans (called “Pre-Cogs”) with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand. John Anderton heads Precrime and believes the system’s flawlessness steadfastly. However one day the Pre-Cogs predict that Anderton will commit a murder himself in the next 36 hours. Worse, Anderton doesn’t even know the victim. He decides to get to the mystery’s core by finding out about the ‘minority report’ which means the prediction of the female Pre-Cog Agatha that “might” tell a different story and prove Anderton innocent.
Once you get into the probability that someone will commit a crime, you move down the slippery slope to The Minority Report. Jailing someone for “intending” to create a crime is wrong. When you start to jail people for this, you start down that slope.
When it comes to the mentally ill, it takes more than someone thinking a crime is to be committed beforehand unless that person is a known danger to himself or others. The problem with this law when applied to mentally ill people is that most people suffering from mental illness, especially including paranoid schizophrenia (which I believe that shooter had) don’t seek help beforehand. They aren’t labeled mentally ill because they haven’t entered the mental illness system. They simply aren’t diagnosed. And one of the symptoms of those illnesses includes an inability to understand that they are sick. So you have tragedies like last week’s happening because of a culmination of the flaws in our system. And yet “precognition” isn’t the answer either.
I understand the nature of the frustration with the current system. We have had several bouts of paranoid schizophrenia-induced attacks on the general public within the past few years. Actually, this type of thing has been going on for eons, and it’s simply due to the rapidity of the news cycle that we learn about these types of occurrences as quickly as we do now- which is to say almost immediately. They have always been there, but they were under-reported.
The answer at this juncture is to carefully consider the effect that limiting personal freedom would have. Too much damage would occur were we to move to a “Minority Report” type of system, which is what is being talked about now. I vote no.