Police found Zach Banner crouched in a corner, doused with petrol, and concealing a pack of matches in his pocket. Immediately transported to the station, psychiatric nurses assessed his mental state. They reported he told them that “life was not worth living.”
Is it just me? . . or does it take a trained psychiatric nurse to determine that this person is suffering from severe mental illness? And rather than taken to jail, wouldn’t a more reasonable choice be to deliver him to a hospital emergency room.
Well, I guess it must be just me because the formally trained psychiatric nurse saw no reason for alarm. She believed that this dangerous and disturbing behavior, along with his declaration of worthless life, did not qualify as an indicator of underlying mental illness. The nurse reasoned that these bizarre actions had all been “an impulsive act.”
But her call was off, and Zach bore the cost of her error in judgment. In the end, he was found dead in his prison cell. Had he been taken to a hospital emergency room, would he still be alive today?
Mentally ill people do not belong in jail. When will intensive and mandatory mental illness awareness training for prison and jail personnel become a priority in our country?