“The Sick and the Dead” (7/11) blames people with mental illnesses for Washington’s spike in the homicide rate, but this unlikely assertion is based on anecdotes and opinions.
We recognize the source of much of author Stephanie Mencimer’s information as the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Va. Headed by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, the treatment Advocacy Center is well-known for its misuse of the research of others and its exaggerated emphasis on violence to win support for its controversial agenda.
The article is inflammatory, and worse, it is inaccurate. For example, a statement about subway pushings in New York City misrepresents a 1992 research study. The true facts are that researchers Martell and Deitz identified 49 subway assailants over a 17-year period. They then homed in on those assailants with symptoms of psychosis and determined that 19 of the 49 had psychotic illnesses. This is a far cry from the article’s description of subway assaults: “all but one of 20 people who had pushed or attempted to push a stranger in front of a train were severely mentally ill.”
The reference to the much-publicized Andrew Goldstein case in New York is an example of rewriting history. The article depicts Goldstein, who pushed Kendra Webdale to her death in 1999, as someone who had refused treatment. It is fortunate that ample evidence exists in the public record to prove that Goldstein tried but could not get the help he knew he needed. Two credible sources, the New York Times and the New York State Commission on Quality of Care, document Goldstein’s monthslong search for help prior to that terrible day in the subway.
National Stigma Clearinghouse
New York, N.Y.