Letter Best: Treatment of last resort

February 10, 2013 

One of my patients was patched up in a local emergency room where he was treated for severe depression with suicidal ideations.

He was in good control on a medical regimen but lost his job and was unable to afford his medications. Now he's a hazard to himself and others.

I had another patient in a full manic mood who was arrested for assault after allegedly pushing someone. He had first been written up by Crisis Response, and was reported in a manic mood. However, there was "nowhere to put him." As a result, this individual, who was a hazard to himself and others, was left untreated. If he pushed someone, the criminal justice system could be used to control him. Voila! He "pushed" someone.

In America, the criminal justice system is the mental health treatment of last resort. Until we provide for classless access to skilled compassionate psychiatric care outside the criminal justice system, we will subject ourselves and our children to horrible risks.

But that would take deeper pockets than simply passing a law on gun magazine capacity to make us feel good.

ROBERT L. WHITSON, Richland

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