I guess we've all heard and read many news reports about tragic events involving a mentally ill person who harms self or others. There have been so many reports like this in the news of late. The trouble is that many people who become very sick, don't realize they are ill. Fully 50% of severely mentally ill may not be able to understand they are sick. They then won't seek out or accept help. So they just get sicker and sicker. Some of these people will be violent. Most states already have a so-called 'hospital law'. This is a law that says, basically if a mentally ill person is a danger to himself or others, he can be confined in a hospital. The state laws have slight differences in wording, but all are similar. Some states now also have a 'Kendra's Law', a law that sets up a process for requiring outpatient treatment. Our state is looking at adopting a sort of 'Kendra's Law' as well. The 'Kendra's Laws' are named for a woman whose tragic end involved a mentally ill person. Some states have named their law after a person in their own state who lost their life, but all the Kendra-like laws have a lot in common. The idea is that the person stays in the community - going to a mental health service or doctor, instead of a hospital. There are many difficulties at all levels with both laws. The central difficulty is the severity of the illness and how deeply it affects thinking. Most people assume that the person just couldn't get affordable help. But the problem actually runs much deeper. People with severe illness often refuse any and all help. The basic problem is that the law in America is set up with a fundamental right to refuse medical help, and that includes mental health help. That's a basic right. But in the case of the violent mentally ill, that right crashes into the rights of the people of the community as a whole. With the hospital laws, we have clearly seen a great many people 'fall through the cracks' and tragedies occur with regularity. But the new 'Kendra's Laws' are getting criticized too, on many fronts. Some say the new laws need to be more like the old laws. Others say they need to be LESS like the old laws! Some say the new laws set the bar too low for who should be in the program; others say the bar is too high. Others say that they'll cost too much to carry out. I have studied some existing Assisted Outpatient Treatment programs. I was very, very surprised to see so many requirements to qualify. These clearly weren't covering a lot of people. I saw numbers like 700 people over a period of eight years! In fact, for the people most in need of the program, the requirements seemed to be virtually impossible to meet. The person had to have a solid history of following treatment! If they had that history, they wouldn't be pointed at Assisted Outpatient Treatment in the first place! It was almost like saying, 'To get into this program for ex-Felons, you need to have never been in jail'. It really seemed THAT DUMB! I find myself weighing a lot of tough questions. There will be meetings to discuss these laws, I hope to attend.