January 16th, 2011
To: President Barack Obama
c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
To: President Obama
From: Margery Wakefield
Re: Jared Loughner and the problem of untreated severe mental illness in the U.S.
“Individuals with severe mental illnesses are no more violent than the general population – so long as they are being treated.”
Dr. E. Fuller Torrey
Dear President Obama,
My name is Margery Wakefield, and I live in Denver, Colorado. I have the illness of schizophrenia. I was diagnosed at age seventeen after a severe psychotic break. I have been on medication since that age, and have actively sought treatment for my condition.
I will also say that I have a master’s degree in social work, and I belong to MENSA (I am intelligent). I work part time, have my own apartment, drive a car, teach piano, write books, travel, have many friends, and have a very quality life!!!
On Wednesday nights (for the past five years), I run a support group for adult schizophrenics at the mental health center in Denver. We are a part of SARDAA (Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America in Houston, Texas). The group is a social and educational support group in which we emphasize the importance of staying on medications, and using hospitalization when necessary. In addition to our regular meetings, we have parties, pizza nights, community outings, and an annual picnic for members and their families. We have fun!
I am very concerned about the problem in this country of the UNTREATED severely mentally ill population. When violent, they give the rest of us a bad name. I take that personally.
I would like to make a suggestion: please set up a task force to study this problem so that the tragedy in Arizona (and others) does not repeat itself. The purpose of the task force would be:
1. To study how this problem is handled in other countries.
2. To examine FEDERAL legislation re: involuntary procedures to restrain severely mentally ill persons who give evidence of being a danger to themselves and/or others until those persons can be properly evaluated and treated.
3. To make legislation that would require such individuals to have some sort of follow-up to make sure they are continuing in treatment.
The task force should include a consumer advocate as well as experts in the field such as Dr. Torrey.
As Dr. Torrey states in a recent article:
“The solution to this problem is obvious – make sure individuals with serious mental illnesses are receiving treatment. Many such patients will take medication voluntarily if it is made available to them. Others are unaware they are sick and should be required by law to receive assisted outpatient treatment, including medication and counseling… If they do not comply with the court-ordered treatment plan, they can and should be involuntarily admitted to a hospital.”
OPINION JOURNAL December 21, 2010
I am sick at heart that a nine-year-old child was a victim of this man’s (Loughner’s) sick rage.
Please see that this tragedy does not happen again!!!