COM156 University Communication and Composition
On December 24, 2011 while most individuals were enjoying the holiday with their families, one area was struck with fear. In Wisconsin one young man and his family was faced with a crisis. The man took out a gun and shot his brother-in-law at a family gathering. This man then left the scene armed and fired into another home, a few blocks way. The man was at large until the next afternoon. Local police placed calls to local residents and advised them to stay in and lock their doors. During the investigation, the suspect’s father told authorities that his son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was found not competent to stand trial. The judge ordered treatment and medication. (The Northwestern, 2011). According to the Fact Sheet published March 2007 by NAMI, 1 out of 4 adults are diagnosed with a mental illness each year. Approximately 5 to 7 percent of these are a serious mental illness. (NAMI.com, p1 2007). Based on these facts it would be accurate to say that a friend or loved one may have a mental illness. Some individuals may choose to take medication. Some individuals with a serious mental illness may not be able to make this decision alone. Someone may have to make this choice for them. The idea that a friend or loved one may seriously harm another may be cause for alarm. The idea that a friend or loved one may cause harm to himself or herself may cause some to fear for their life. Involuntary treatment, which includes forced medication of individuals who have a mental illness and are a threat to themselves or others is necessary.
When an individual with a severe mental illness becomes a threat to themselves or others, involuntary medication of the individual may become necessary. However, who decides if an individual is a threat to themselves or others? Following this idea further, how is this decision made? First the necessary forms for declaring someone mentally incompetent and requesting guardianship need to be obtained. A psychological evaluation needs to be performed. This may need to be done by a court order. A court hearing is necessary when someone’s competency is in question. Many times friends or family will call police when an incident occurs and they feel the individual may need help. The individual may then be placed on a 72-hour hospital hold. Police are allowed to take an individual into custody if they believe that the individual is a danger to himself or others or if he cannot provide for his or her personal needs. During this 72-hour hold the individual will undergo a psychological evaluation. This individual has the right to consent to or refuse medications. This right was established in a landmark case, Rogers v Okin. This case was heard Massachusetts Court which ruled that mental health patients have the right to refuse treatment which includes the use of anti-psychotic drugs, in non-emergency situations. (Norris, Garringer & Kurtz, 1980). If the individual is deemed competent to make their own decisions they then will decide what type of treatment plan if any is needed to help resolve whatever caused their hospitalization. If after the evaluation the physician feels the individual is still a threat to themselves or others, or unable to care for their basic needs, the individual will be put on a 14-day involuntary hold. In this case the physician believes that the individual is unwilling to accept voluntary treatment. There are many who oppose involuntary treatment of the mentally ill. One of the reasons many oppose involuntary treatment is that medications have adverse side effects. The use of these medications on an individual without their consent is by some, considered inhumane. An example of such a medication is Clozapine, which is a drug used in the treatment of schizophrenia. According to The U.S. National Library of medicine,…