The NYC subway shooting could be a game changer for mental health

Tuesday is Chaos on a crowded Brooklyn N train could prove to be the case a turning point for Gotham: either the city contains the lunatics who are making life miserable for New Yorkers, or it watches as its residents flee – and their future spirals downward.

The attack was the sum of all New Yorkers’ fears: dozens of drivers trapped in a train car, with what appeared to be a bottled-up psychopath, armed with various weapons, detonating smoke bombs before firing 33 rounds, hitting 10 and one left a total of 29 injured.

Suspect Frank James is clearly plagued by undertreated mental health issues: “Mr. Mayor, I am a victim of your mental health program,” he ranted in one of his lengthy videos. “I’m 62 now, full of hate, full of anger and full of bitterness.”

And all too free to roam the streets and subways of New York terrorizing the rest of us, despite another video of him miming shooting in a subway car.

Frank Jacob
Suspect Frank James described himself as a “victim” of the mayor’s mental health program in one of his video rants.

This super horror just caps a wave of madness in the city, especially on the subway that has seen innocent passengers pushed to their deaths in front of oncoming trains or fatally knocked down stairs. And that has been coupled with a truly staggering increase in violent crime.

“I’m done. I’m done riding the train. It’s just not worth it,” scolds a 29-year-old finance clerk, Shirley Shao. “Every time I go [into the subway]I worry in the back of my mind that someone will attack me while my back is turned.”

Too many New Yorkers feel the same way — even as the city tries to lure commuters back into their offices to boost the economy after the pandemic.

The good news: Protecting New Yorkers from the dangerously insane and getting these people the help they need is hardly an impossible task. But in order to do it, one must be willing to force the sick to take their medication, or to hospitalize them when they don’t, or when that isn’t enough. It means having enough hospital beds and staff and supportive housing services for the people living in the community.

Kathy Hochul
State legislatures made changes to Kendra’s law and allocated funds for more psychiatric beds in the budget passed last week.
Getty Images

For too long, the city and state have resisted such approaches, pretending to care more about the rights of the mentally ill. Yes, the state has had the Kendra Act on the books for years, allowing judges to order “assisted outpatient treatment.” But that law hasn’t been applied nearly well enough, and Albany has resisted improvement.

Last weeks budget agreement did Finally make some adjustments to Kendra’s law and also provided some money to bring back psychiatric hospital beds and expand outreach services, but it’s not nearly enough.

The future of the city depends on New York City leaders committing to putting people with dangerous mental illnesses in situations where they no longer threaten the innocent, period.

If not, expect the trains to become increasingly empty – and New York’s future increasingly bleak.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/13/nycs-subway-shooting-may-be-a-mental-health-turning-point/ The NYC subway shooting could be a game changer for mental health


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