Mental illness root of tragic killings

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Previous and current administrations have used disasters to make changes to prevent future events or at least improve government response to disasters such as hurricanes and 9/11. The current administration claims gun control will prevent future tragedies such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The shooter at Sandy Hook was mentally ill. Another national tragedy is the loss of public mental hospitals in every state. Currently the largest repository for the mentally ill is the prison system.

Why did states close down mental hospitals? The drug lobby said that medication would decrease mental illness admissions to hospitals and save state government money. It did save money.

However, the mentally ill fail to thrive in our society. Why? Some of the medications have adverse reactions/side effects, especially for the schizophrenics.

The adverse effect is called tardive dyskinsia, a neurological syndrome causing involuntary twitches, muscle jerks and facial tics. Psychotropic drugs such as phenothiazines are in some cases miracle drugs, but for others, a nightmare.

The negative adverse effects are the main reason many patients stop taking their medication. When they stop the medication they revert to the unstable mental state that requires hospitalization until they are medicated and released from the hospital. Tardive dyskensia symptoms do not stop when stopping the medication. No one has solved that problem for the mentally ill.

While staffing Oregon Gov. Vic Atiyeh’s Mental Health Task Force in 1980, I learned from family members and patients what works best for them. Staying on their medication kept them stable. Problems arose when they forget to take their medication or they could not afford to pay for the next prescription.

Many did not live at home but survived in group homes, shelters or lived on the street, where their medication was often stolen. Funding services for the mentally ill was lacking after the public mental hospitals were shut down.

Inadequate state funding, Medicaid, is the primary reason for the lack of comprehensive services for the low-income mentally ill.

The tragedy at Newtown’s Sandy Hook school is the failure of our nation to care for its mentally ill. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with this nationwide tragedy.

More gun control will not help the mentally ill nor will it stop another school shooting.

Elizabeth Hinchman

Walla Walla

Comments

barracuda 1 year, 11 months ago

Great story... And I add one more thing to this note.......................... How are we going to get the illegal guns from the bad guys who have these problems? I dont believe they will willingly hand over their guns, when their "rivals" keep theirs...

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namvet60 1 year, 11 months ago

One step farther we have the government running illegal guns how do they expect to control the guns in the US of A. Change the government and we wouldn't have these problems.

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chicoli 1 year, 11 months ago

Some comments: 1. Back in 1963, responding to a study demontrating that State Mental Hospitals custodial approach violated the right to treatment of mental patients, Kennedy's Congress passed the Community Mental Health Centers acts. Thousands of patients were discharged to such centers for both inpatient and outpatient treatment free of charge. 2. During the 1970's both Nixon and Ford vetoed funding for such programs. Jimmy Carter restored funding in 1980 and Reagan repealed it during another budgeting revision in 1981. Since then community mental helth services declined in the years that followed. 3. The new Affordable Care Act will cover mental illness significantly better. Romney considered these population of patients as part of the 47% "takers" and was not too enthusiatic about a universal coverage for them. 4. The new antipsychotics are significantly better than the phenothizines of the 80's, have a clean side effects profile and rarely cause Tardive Dyskinesia anymore. This is good news. 5. Around 11,000 Americans are predicted to be killed by guns this year. The overwhelming majority of them are going to be killed by "sane" people, many of them "good guys" turned bad guys right after they kill someone. Could it be because they have easy access to millions of guns that are out there? 6. Of course mental illness and violent video games are causal factors that need to be addressed. But so is the country's gun culture who is very happy to blame it on mental patients alone . The "sacrosant" gun has nothing to do with murders by guns? 7. Now is your chance to call your republican congressperson asking for their support of the Affordable Care Act and not repeal it as is historically the norm in the GOP.

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wallyworldguy 1 year, 11 months ago

The overwhelming majority of them are going to be killed by "sane" people, many of them "good guys" turned bad guys right after they kill someone. Not only does this not make sense, it is not true.

the country's gun culture who is very happy to blame it on mental patients alone again not true. no one has ever said mental patients ALONE are the problem. but thats the liberal side of you feeling the need to exaggerate or twist what someone says to make it sound like something its not.

I would be willing to bet that the large majority of those 11,000 people predicted to die are going to be gang related, bad drug deals gone bad, or revenge killings. You know, jealous man or women. those murders are going to happen whether by gun,bat, car or hand.

To imply someone will become a murderer just because a gun is near is just plain stupid. Paco, let me ask you this, Did prohibition work? Did making meth illegal work? Now don't tell me booze and drugs are not relevant, because they kill more people every year then any other social culture habit. People who kill in public places like schools, malls, theaters and public work buildings ARE MENTAL!!

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chicoli 1 year, 10 months ago

Did I say 11,000? I'm sorry my friend, I should've said 30,000! No other civilized country have this morbid epidemic related to fatal gun injuries. The fact that many other people are killed by drugs, alcohol, car accidents, etc, does not mean that we should do nothing about the out of control gun related violence in this country.

The overwhelming majority of mental health patients are no more violent than the population at large, on the contrary they are more vulnerable to be victims of crime and violence than the population at large.

Call your republican, reluctant-to-help in-health issues congressmen and ask for more services to treat mental health patients!

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namvet60 1 year, 11 months ago

That's funny - they must have a large group of mentally ill persons in Chicago - 7 people killed last Saturday night. Chicago's ole Rahm Immanuel has the strictest gun laws along with New York!

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chicoli 1 year, 11 months ago

Guys, please read January 27, NY times article by Joe Nocera "And in the last week's gun news..." There are all kind of individuals killing with guns, including good guys with legal weapons! Now and for quite some time the gun manufacturers with the help of the NRA leadership are promoting the selling of AR 15 to children. Where is the decency of these people! Children and adolecents are very impulsive by nature, therefore at high risk for injuring themselves or others when handling weapons.

Yesterday a Doctor was killed in his office by a good guy. Please let's have a civil conversation. Lets keep track of gun violence from now on. We need statistics and cientific studies. Hopefully the NRA will not block such studies for the truth to come out.

Thanks for your kind comments!

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namvet60 1 year, 11 months ago

paco - to say the NRA is promoting selling AR-15's to children is ludicrous. Geez back off with ignorance of the uninformed. Check out the facts on the Dr getting killed by a good guy before blowing smoke!

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chicoli 1 year, 11 months ago

Stop it, namvet60! Please stay away from personal attacks. Please present your arguments as to why you believe otherwise. It will be nice if once in a while you present ideas of your own for a civil debate. You just can not wait for the next UB to scream out at any one who disagrees with you. I do not know if you read the New York Times but just this last Sunday there was a lenthy article " Selling a New Generation on Guns" depicting how the gun insdustry has been marketing guns to children with the help of the NRA and other other pro guns organizations. Read it please, present your arguments in a respectfull manner and let's talk about it ! You can do it my friend.

I nevertheless appreciate that you agree with me in that marketing AR 15 to children is not a good idea. You see, you are a good guy and I respect you for that. Please do not disapoint me now! Read the NYT and let us know your take on it.

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namvet60 1 year, 11 months ago

First I don't read liberal rags such as the New York Times thank you - next the NRA has been promoting gun safety classes for any ages and not promoting in anyway any particular gun or style due to the fact that not all people are comfortable with the same gun. For the Doctor that got shot he was a urologist and the person that shot him has prostrate trouble so who really knows the real reason for the killing. I don't speculate for one thing and I don't utilize expanded space to get a point across like some people that leave there comments!

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