Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

Tag: Western State Hospital

Feb.
10th

MENTAL HEALTH: Many fall through the cracks

Reports of a mentally ill woman committed to Western State Hospital only to end up in a homeless shelter in California (TNT, 2-9) point to our crazy-quilt mental health system and lack of coordination between agencies and the courts.

It is far too easy for a mentally ill person to “fall through the cracks” in Pierce County. While the details of this particular instance are not fully explained, it seems that a simple fax machine could have averted this tragedy.

We need to develop a more coordinated system that ensures mentally ill persons receive appropriate care – not mangled

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March
18th

MENTAL HEALTH: Funding must be a priority

The recent articles in The News Tribune (3-10) have highlighted, very well, the “revolving door” policy that my family and I are too familiar with. The mental health system in Washington is, without a doubt, in crisis.

Nearly five months ago my son, Jonathan, killed his father. Rob’s murder never should have happened. Last year it seemed that Jon was to be committed to the institution for life, but he was released unexpectedly. Now we’re caught up in the system again.

The day that Jon had his arraignment for murdering his father, he was ordered to Western State Hospital

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March
11th

MENTAL HEALTH: Some good people trying to help

Re: “No vacancy, no excuse for Western State to deny care” (TNT, 3-10).

Sunshine Sunday led to some great reading, notably Sean Robinson’s articles on the mental-health revolving door.

It was astounding to learn that Washington is dead last when it comes to the “certified beds” needed to deal with this intractable problem. A majority of mass killings and shooting sprees are committed by people with mental-health problems that were identified in advance, so it was alarming to see our cumbersome and ill-equipped situation.

That said, it was encouraging to read coverage on the straight-talking Commissioner Craig Adams and

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March
11th

MENTAL HEALTH: Care denied to mentally ill

Re: “No vacancy, no excuse for Western State to deny care” (TNT, 3-10).

Care of the mentally ill is not a priority of our state’s legislators, as accurately described in your front-page article. Washington’s mentally ill, who cannot care for themselves, receive haphazard treatment or none at all. Although relatively few are a danger to society, most are victims rather than perpetrators.

As the parent for 30 years of a daughter suffering from schizophrenia, I know firsthand the pain and suffering of mental illness. My daughter was fortunate, however, to receive enlightened care at several state hospitals and group

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Dec.
18th

SHOOTING: What kind of society do we want?

One thing that we can get out of the recent tragedies in Washington, Oregon and Connecticut is that we have to stop dumbing down our mental health care. This has been going on since the 1980s.

Western State Hospital has been crippled by 30-plus years of budget cuts. Thousands are affected by this, but it only gets publicity when someone who needs and can be helped kills someone, often a family member who has been struggling with their problem for years. It is close to impossible for a typical family to deal with mental illness in a loved one.

Once

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Dec.
10th

WSH: Ticking time bombs sent out into public

Re: “‘Time bomb’ son shatters family” (TNT, 12-8).

“Our function is to see justice is done, but that’s not the doctors’ job,” explained Phillip Sorensen, a deputy prosecuting attorney. “Their purpose is to make people better. For them, the best-case scenario is to get them healthy enough to be back in the community.”

While it may not have been intentional, this statement contains a huge falsehood. Schizophrenia does not “get better”; it can only be controlled to some extent with medication. The person’s “health” depends on continuing that medication. The state’s motivation (not the doctors’ or staff at Western

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Oct.
7th

WSH: Why $200,000 yearly per patient?

Are we on the verge of financial self-destruction?

At a time when most senior citizens probably have to get by with an annual income of less than $40,000, we are told that is about how much it costs to incarcerate prisoners in most states. However, that amount pales compared to what it costs to house people in mental health facilities.

When I first read that we taxpayers have to come up with $560 every day ($200,004 a year) to provide for each patient at Western State Hospital (

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March
9th

WSH: Recent escape isn’t that unusual

Re: “‘Son of Satan’ recaptured” (TNT, 3-6).

As a former Western State Hospital employee who worked at that institution for more than 16 years, I would like to say that the recent event is really not that unusual.

WSH patients “escape” quite frequently. They are called ULs, or unauthorized leaves. It would not be unusual for there to be several ULs a week and quite a few every month. Any UL is a person who is on leave but should not be due to some aspect of their mental state.

Olympia has cracked down on WSH and Eastern State Hospital

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