Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Do we put ourselves at risk when mental health services are cut?

Suicides and homicides by mentally ill people are all too often accompanied by news stories that mention that the ill individual had shortly before come in contact with our mental health care system, but had been sent away because we have resources to treat only the most extreme cases.

I call this deadly penny-pinching. I saw on CNN this morning that more than 1.14 million American households have assets of over $5 million. We are a rich country. There is money to provide basic health services in this country. And the price we pay when we don't pay for basic services can't be measured in money.

Cho Byung Jae, the young man who killed himself and 32 others at Virginia Tech, was another in a long line of severely mentally ill individuals who was released from a mental hospital even though a special justice in Virginia had found him to be dangerous to himself.

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