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Letter to the Editor
Tragedy Demonstrates MH System’s Failure
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 16 page 26-26

APA’s recent annual meeting was a great success except for a terrible event that demonstrates the dissolution of our public mental health system. The chair of the Scientific Program Committee, Dr. Geetha Jayaram, was brutally assaulted by a homeless mentally ill person and sustained serious injuries. Fortunately Dr. Jayaram, who spends her professional hours working with the chronically mentally ill at Johns Hopkins, is recovering.

This tragedy should remind all of us that the public sector for psychiatric care is barely existent. Its failure to treat our neediest citizens fosters pain and suffering for patients and others. This random event should remind all of us that there are consequences to the evaporation of our mental health services. Our profession should thank Dr. Jayaram for her wonderful work in leading our annual meetings and wish her a very speedy recovery.

Dr. Jayaram responds:

As Dr. Wise stated in his letter, I am recovering slowly from an attack by a homeless mentally ill man in San Francisco.

While I am grateful for the concern and solicitude shown me, I feel regret for the lack of concern shown toward the chronically mentally ill who roam the streets untreated. Their suffering highlights the depths that public-sector psychiatry has sunk to, lack of political awareness of the long-term costs of not treating patients in an ongoing manner, the lack of access to care, and the lack of adequate advocacy by those who "authorize" visits for treatment. Such neglect surely will place many citizens at risk.

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