At a time of heightened concern over police shootings, a new report estimates that people with mental illness are 16 times more likely than others to be killed by police, reported the USA Today.
About one in four fatal police encounters involve someone with mental illness, according to the report, released Thursday by the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, which focuses on the needs of people with serious mental illness.
The problem stems from a lack of police training, as well as a lack of treatment for those with serious mental illness, said John Snook, the report's co-author and executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. In many cases, people with serious mental illness are unable to get treatment until their behavior attracts the attention of the police.
"If this were any other medical condition, people would be up in arms," Snook said. "What we need to do is treat the person before the police are ever called. This is a mental illness, but we respond by calling the police and arresting a person."
Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from a serious mental illness that "disorders their thinking," such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, according to the report. On any given day, half of these patients are not taking medications or receiving other care.
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