Virginia Must Prize Mental Illness Treatment Over Psychosis

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Virginia's mental illness treatment laws are among the most restrictive in the nation. To get help via involuntary commitment, the state requires someone obviously incapacitated by the symptoms of an illness like schizophrenia to be an immediate physical danger to themselves or others.

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The tragic results of this archaic law are seen every day across the Commonwealth, but drew national attention in the aftermath of the murders at Virginia Tech. The stories that play out every day in our homes and towns draw little national media attention, but create much pain.

Just ask Kathy Harkey.

"I cry every day over what happened to us and our son," Harkey told the Richmond Times Dispatch after the Virginia Tech murders. Harkey and her family tried for four years without success to get treatment for her son Joshua, but every door was closed because Joshua refused treatment and was not dangerous. Her struggle ended when Joshua, 24, killed himself.

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