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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 24, 2009 at 6:00 AM

New Year’s attacker pleads guilty

Mental-health system needs adequate resources

I read with interest the story on James Williams’ guilty plea [“New Year’s Eve knife attacker pleads guilty to murder,” seattletimes.com, Local News, May 22]. Missing in this and many other stories involving persons with mental illness is any discussion of why these terrible and unfortunate events happen and how such events might be prevented in the future.

The community mental-health system has been under-resourced and overpopulated for many years. One effect of this system under siege is limited ability to really look after people in need. Enormous caseloads of challenging people means some do not get the help they need.

Another effect may be that there are limited or no treatment choices for consumers within that system. Some choose no services when faced with few or no choices. A one-size-fits-all approach is inappropriate in any area of health care.

It may never be known why Williams acted as he did in such a senseless and violent manner. What is known is that our public system of care can do better — much better. It is long past time for adequate resources to be made available for it to do so.

— Jonathan R. Beard, licensed clinical social worker, Seattle

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