Thursday, June 22, 2006

Depression & Suicide Epidemic in New Orleans, Due to Collapse of Mental Health System

While the President and Congress continue to fail to respond adequately to the worsening public health emergency in New Orleans, as SUSAN SAULNY reported in a front-page article in yesterday's (June 21) New York Times,
New Orleans is experiencing what appears to be a near epidemic of depression and post-traumatic stress disorders, one that mental health experts say is of an intensity rarely seen in this country. It is contributing to a suicide rate that state and local officials describe as close to triple what it was before Hurricane Katrina struck and the levees broke 10 months ago.

Compounding the challenge, the local mental health system has suffered a near total collapse, heaping a great deal of the work to be done with emotionally disturbed residents onto the Police Department and people like Sergeant Glaudi, who has sharp crisis management skills but no medical background. He says his unit handles 150 to 180 such distress calls a month.

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