Kudos for the essay on the life-shattering consequences of stalking (“My So-Called Stalker,” 10/8). The description of the terror the author felt (which will probably endure regardless of the outcome) in performing even the most mundane tasks for fear of an encounter was both chilling and evocative. She has been victimized not only by a single disturbed individual, but also by the very system charged with protecting her.

During my reading, however, the more that I learned about “Ron”‘s schizophrenic behavior, the more I began to see that he, too, has been victimized. Obviously, he has not endured the same type of abuse as “Theresa,” but he also has suffered needlessly due to the inadequacies of a social institution, our health care system. Had Ron been diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, this whole sad tale might have never occurred.

One can only imagine the horror of his daily existence and the disturbing thoughts that race through his mind every second of his day. Unfortunately, the intangible nature of mental illness relegates its sufferers to second-class status in the eyes of insurance companies and governing bodies. Although Ron has perpetrated incalculable and permanent damage to the author, it is saddening to think that he might have had a productive life had he received proper treatment.

As long as we continue to ignore the need for greater mental health awareness, we must be willing to accept the consequences of our inaction. Until then, unfortunately, we will be reading many more stories like Theresa’s.

Rockville, Md.