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Letter: Treating mental illness

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Letter to the editor

Deseret News

An alarming fact is that there are a million Americans with severe mental illnesses (bipolar, manic-depressive disease or schizophrenia) who should be treated, but aren’t today. There have been (far too) many mass murders in the U.S., but even that number is a tiny fraction of the total violent acts committed by these untreated individuals, which do not get mass publicity.

Also, the utter tragedy of the non-felonious consequences of those actions by the untreated mentally ill is astronomical, since they disproportionately abuse children and other vulnerables, destroy property and even businesses. With so many who today avoid being psychiatrically controlled, a healthy attitude toward treating or even hospitalizing them where necessary could likely reduce the detriment to societies in both personal and economic terms.

Better education about this scourge, replacing stigma with proactive support, a change in public policy and to the justice system which is currently blind to this problem, and spending the money which will be returned by the positive results realized and opening our minds could create the improvements required.

Partisan political recriminations, gun control debate and other public dialog which follows on to the mass murder publicity is important, but fixing a very broken society ravaged by horrendous consequences of severe mental illness is urgent and crucial. One very recent book, “At the Point of a Knife,” is a dramatic but heart-wrenching story of one such circumstance.

Kenneth Fox

Toronto, Ontario, Canada