Mental illness. Helping them is easier than what happens when we don’t


We’ve had a horrific example of what happens when mental illness and guns get mixed together. However, most mentally ill don’t hurt others.

From my friend Elizabeth Bishop on Facebook

This country needs to have a serious discussion about mental illness. Prior to living in southern Utah, I lived in Ocean Beach, a little burb in San Diego. Walk down to the bottom of its main drag, and you’ll see how the homeless mentally ill do. They hear voices, they treat the voices with drugs and alcohol, more drugs and alcohol, get arrested, sent to county mental health, then released. Then back to the seawall. Occasionally one might walk around with a stick, then he may get shot by the San Diego police department. This is how we treat the mentally ill in the good ol’ US of A.

I used to live in Venice CA and one day went out to the carport in the alley and saw several detectives standing around the lifeless body of the mentally ill homeless guy who hung out at the 7-11 asking to clean your windshields for spare change. He’d been shot, probably got on the wrong end of some crappy little drug deal.

My sister is bipolar, stopped taking her meds, and ended up homeless and clinically psychotic. My brother-in-law is a social worker, had been chronicling her disintegration, and went to the State and explained in clinical terms what was going on. They put her on a 72 hour psychiatric hold. It worked. My sister got back on her meds, and is now married and has a good job. She has recovered. Many others do too.

The homeless guy in Venice probably didn’t have a safety net to bounce off of like my sister did. He never got a chance to recover. Neither will the Newtown murder victims.

It seems to me that trying to help the mentally ill is a whole lot easier than dealing with what happens when we don’t.

One comment

  1. I would add to these stories a kid in Playa Del Rey, CA, who used heroin to keep the voices at bay – he died in the park at 30 years old. Another who can’t hold a job because the street drugs he uses to shut the voices up make him unemployable. And a woman with bipolar who could only get 5 days in the hospital, which was enough to stop the hallucinations and multiple personalities but not enough to get the manic under control – but that’s all the system says she gets, even with insurance.

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