The Washington City Paper took on a difficult task with aplomb in its in-depth examination of how bad laws exacerbate our region’s mental-health crisis (“The Sick and the Dead,” 7/11).
Numerous studies on the issue of violence, including the MacArthur Foundation’s, have shown that a principal difference is medication. When untreated, people with severe mental illnesses pose a greater risk of violence. When treated, they pose a risk no higher than that of the general population.
It is the understandable fear of stigmatizing people who have these brain diseases that too often prevents some from acknowledging the truth: It is not the headlines that are stigmatizing, but the crimes caused by untreated and severe psychiatric disorders. If we can get people into treatment and avert such tragedies, the stigma will be cut off at the source.
I have bipolar disorder. The psychotic features of my illness once endangered not only me but others. For a decade and a half, medication has led to me regaining my life and to peace for those around me.
Although the use of phrases such as “nut case” is a bit disconcerting, I nonetheless say bravo to Stephanie Mencimer and the City Paper for a bold look at a misunderstood and controversial issue.