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The hidden danger that we neglect
Monday, September 12, 2005 6:59:42 PM - Monroe Ohio

Guest Editorial - Douglas Kauffman
My View: The hidden danger that we neglect

This is probably a good time as any to point out the dangers of mental illness in our society. The recent murder of Christy Minnix by her own son, by someone whom she cared for and loved, is testimony to the fact that we are abysmally lacking in good laws to protect us from the violently mentally ill. It is not something that can easily be observed ó there are no warning labels on these individuals ó and the worst part is that they look just like you and me.

My wife and daughter were reminiscing about Christy just the day before the murder. My daughter, a college freshman, was saying that her math professor was reviewing proper and improper fractions, something she remembered learning from Mrs. Minnix in sixth grade. My three children attended Rosedale School, and all of them loved Mrs. Minnix.

Christyís murderer reportedly stated that he had heard voices (from God?) saying that his mother was not one of Godís people and must be killed! This is not an unusual scenario from people with serious mental problems. Even Michaelís mother didnít see this coming. The laws that protected Michaelís privacy and prevented his family from medicating him did nothing to protect Christy from his apparent violence.

As a concerned individual, I want more people to become aware of the emotionally disturbed, the paranoid schizophrenics, bipolar disorders, etc. They are all around you. We need to become proactive in treating mental illness, instead of reactive; in other words, letís try to prevent instead of repair.

While nothing can be done to bring Christy back, we must give the families of the adult mentally ill the tools to care for their loved ones. If we can do drug testing to see if someone is taking illegal substances, why canít we ensure that someone is taking legal substances that could prevent a catastrophe such as we have just witnessed. Drug testing in this case could have prevented this tragedy in more ways than one.

People with most of these mental disorders are unable to purchase private medical insurance; therefore we would need to pass a law to provide these medications to those needing them after they reach the age of 18, which is the age at which most non-college-bound offspring lose medical coverage from their parentsí plan.

I want to share a comment made to me by a psychiatrist who practiced here in Middletown from 1987 to 1997, a man who had five filing cabinets, four drawers per cabinet, stuffed full of files of local people with mental problems. Upon purchasing my office condo from him, I asked him why he was giving up psychiatry to go into pediatrics. He replied: ďDoug, I am tired of battling with insurance companies for payments for patientsí treatments. If I work on somebodyís head, thereís always someone questioning me; if I work on someoneís child, thereís never any problem. Thatís why I now prefer pediatrics.Ē This is apathy, folks. We are like the insurers in this case.

Now is the time to become proactive and push for legislation to monitor the dangerous mental diseases that we have been ignoring for all these years. Instead of locking up the seriously mentally ill after a heinous crime, letís prevent the crime from happening.

It would be better for society to medicate and monitor these people into productive lives as opposed to waiting for them to do something dreadful. My heart goes out to Tim and the rest of Christyís family and friends.

Douglas E. Kauffman of Middletown is president of Benefit Concepts Inc., which writes life and health insurance policies for individuals and groups worldwide. Kauffman, who formed Benefit Concepts in 1982, graduated from Middletown High School in 1972 and attended Miami University.

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