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Mental-Health Tragedy

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This is another sad story of what happens when a society ignores a problem until it snaps, breaks the chains, climbs a building, swatting and smashing military planes along the way, while we pump steroids into it.  And that gorilla is still on the loose, by the way.  Smashing building after building, block by block, storefront after store front.  And instead of gaining control, utilizing common-sense restraint plus safeguards, or... regulations, rather, we choose ignoring it.  If you ask a house burglar if they would rather rob your house with you in it or away on vacation for two weeks I can guess their answer.

The mental-health issue in the United States of America is out of control.  The afflicted are given checks on the average of $1,000 per month and are told to live on that, plus a few food stamps.  Most of the Social Security money goes to their rents at low-income Hotels near the downtown areas of our nation.  Some achieve "Section-8 Housing" through the state through waiting lists and immediacy and lottery.  And some of those places are high-rent buildings, like the Gaia Building in downtown Berkeley. 

On February 12 of this year the Berkeley Police received a call from an acquaintance of the now-deceased man, Xavier Christopher Moore.  Allegedly the police, when interacting with Moore in his apartment on the same evening of his death, eventually had to use physical restraint on Mr. Moore when he became agitated and abrasive toward the police officers, they reported.  The family wants to know why there wasn't a mental-health professional present, when the police apparently knew of Moore's condition, implying that the mental-health information is within their system of records, as Moore had interactions with them in the past.

Also, the lack of information getting out to the family has been seen as problematic.  People see the police's suspicious reactions toward certain situations and are jaded from historical reference.  Detractors see that Blue Shield prop up, whether it's happening or not.  Perception is reality, every time, and they (authorities) know it.  But I digress.  The autopsy report is still out, so expect more information forthcoming once the toxicology results arrive the Medical Examiner's desk.  As with most cases where death and police are involved, people get angry, especially the family involved. 

This is how I see it (so far): The System is at fault here.  I'm not sure about liability, as that is a legal issue, but what I see is the System put those police in that situation, to deal with an agitated-over-three-hundred-pound man, allegedly and reportedly (from the caller) on methamphetamine or crack cocaine or both, and had mental-health issues to top it off, which is probably why the man did so many drugs.  Because We (as a Society) have decided to abandon them with a check every month and an "Atta-Boy!" pat-on-the-back.

This is the same type System that put George Zimmerman on that dark street with Treyvon Martin last year.  Only this issue is mental health and that issue was and is guns, privatization, money, power, and media-perpetuated fear.  And if you analyze those who blamed Treyvon Martin for his own death, simply because he used Cannabis and was suspended from school for it, you can see there are other areas of mental health we openly ignore; like sociopaths who run or in charge of things.

And the mental-health issue has been allowed to devolve and fester because of "budgetary constraints."  In other words: they "don't have the money."  That is what they tell us, yet they find money for other things; other ventures they have an interest in, usually financial; conflict of interest.  Things that are not human-based.  Things that are more financial-incentive-based.  People are not economically viable unless they are being moved into position to take out a bishop or rook.

Just two days ago I heard, "Well, Ronald Reagan let 'em all out!"  Yes, Ronald Reagan, or Grandaddy Satan I call him, "let 'em all out!"  So.  What have we done since?  Reagan began rotting almost a decade ago.  His systematic removal of most mental-health patients from state facilities occurred some thirty years ago...?  We can blame the guy, sure... he needs accountability for all this, and other things.  However, the continual scapegoating, cop-out we rely upon, that it is his fault, only serves to keep the problem in existence. 

Just like when someone uses a pejorative to describe me, like "bum!" or "you're lazy!" I usually utter, "Yeah?  So?  Fine.  I'm what you say I am.  But we're still here.  We're still in this mess.  You haven't solved anything.  You've only succeeded in wasting our time.  If you haven't anything to offer in terms of a solution to the problem, please, get the hell out of the way."  When people come after your you they can't come after your words.  They are deflecting attention from them and on to you.  Then projection occurs.  Or they scurry away, back into the dark corners where they exist and belong.

What the police are faced with concerning this subject is not fair.  Sure, they are professionals, but they are also put in position to respond to calls made from citizens claiming someone is agitated and most likely high on one or more dangerous controlled substances.  This is not a situation where the man was calm and police exacerbated the situation, I believe.   Allegedly, the man lost his cool and the police had to restrain him, physically.  There was a call made and the police responded.  Whether or not they knew who it was ahead of time and did nothing to counter the deceased man's mental-health issues is still out there.  But that's not why I am writing this article.

People are tired of my friends throwing marbles, toy cars, swinging at the air, et cetera, but they do not want to do anything to help get these folks help.  So we either need to get used to crazy stuff happening, all around us, or take care of it.  Blaming each other and suing one another only makes things worse and takes focus off the Real Criminals who are wielding this stick at us all.  We should not fall for such an obvious and juvenile ploy.  So why are we?  We have relegated the police as mental-health advocates and that is not their job.  I'm sure their union representative would think as much too, no?

Blaming the police for mental-health calamities is like blaming the homeless for the financial misfortunes and high rents of these businesses in the downtown Berkeley area.  Us bickering at each other serves no purpose.  Taking responsibility for all these unfortunate souls should be what we do next.  I'm tired of seeing some of my manic-depressive friends walking around like they don't have a friend in the world.  It's sad.  And then to have folks judging them as though it is they who are to blame, because those folks blaming are guilty and would rather see it swept under the proverbial rug instead, is absurd and maddening. 

Last night I found out a friend of mine, Lauren, had a stroke and is hospitalized at Alta Bates up on Telegraph Avenue; if anyone would like to send their wishes I am sure she would appreciate it.  She is a perfect case of how and why our mental-health system needs overhauling and managing, correctly.  Hey, how about we tax the hell out of these wealthy corporations who are screwing us all, then we can "get the money" for it.  Lauren suffers from mini-strokes, as she has seizures daily.  Sometimes three in a day.  She hasn't the money for medication.  She hasn't the capacity to handle the social structure.  I know her, she is not able.  This is where we need advocates.

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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).
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