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Help Is Out There for Mentally Ill

June 30, 1996

Re "The Grieving Never Ends" (June 12): Roxanne Roberts' story of her father's suicide is wrenching, but can be helpful for family members who are going through a similar experience. The episodes of rage and the threats of suicide are clear symptoms of the disorder that is classified as depression.

I do not know what the laws in Minnesota were 20 years ago when Roberts' father took his own life after terrorizing his family for years, but in today's California there is a law under which a person who is a threat to himself or to others can be taken to a hospital for examination, evaluation, and treatment.

The California Welfare and Institutions code number is 5150, and it is the term we urge our members to use when they call the police to deal with a family member who is a threat to himself or others. This tells the police they will be dealing with a mentally ill, violent person.

It is important that readers of Roberts' article be aware that this is an alternative that often brings the troubled one to help and ends the agony of family members. Treatment with appropriate pharmaceuticals does work.

FLORENCE FITZGERALD

Regional coordinator for legislative action

California Coalition for the Mentally Ill

La Mirada

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