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Re: “Cheryl Hanna's Suicide Confirms Mental Health Problems in Vermont

There is a stigma about mental health issues, and talking about it is the only way to root it out of our culture-- ignoring it surely won't. At least it hasn't so far in recorded history. And the stigma is part of the reason that treatment is hard to get even when you have financial access to it and are motivated to do it, as Hanna was initially. If we took mental illness as seriously and non-judgmentally as heart disease, would she have had to spend days in an ER?
We do not know what happened after her admission to change her mind about getting hospital treatment, and it is absolutely true that an adult can't be held in treatment against his or her will without evidence of imminent threat sufficient to get a court order-- clearly not the case here. We can't blame her release on the hospital, but I hope it is engaging in a review of her treatment while she was there-- her brief stay raises the question, were resources available to give her what she needed, when she needed it, or was this another waiting game due to insufficient staffing or other resources, another measure of the social stigma, reflected in financial priorities?
The question is not intended to blame this hospital, but to look at how our system could and should change.
Likewise, the easy access to a gun. I question how effective a poster with a help line is going to be in the gun shop-- I suspect many buyers, like Hanna, have already tried and failed to get help. For starters, this state needs to start reporting to the federal data bank. But since 40 percent of our gun sales aren't subject to a background check at all, clearly we also need to close that loophole. And more, we need to look at other ways to make it harder for guns to end up in the wrong hands: a waiting period, a broader restriction on selling to those with any recent history of treatment for mental illness.

8 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by JLPEN on 08/07/2014 at 11:24 AM

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