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Killing by Mentally Ill Man Shows Cracks In COVID-Era Health System

Martial Simon, an 61-year-old former cab driver and parking-lot manager, will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars for pushing Michelle Alyssa Go, a 40-year-old stranger, to her death in front of a subway train, reports the New York Times. Simon started showing symptoms of schizophrenia in his 30s and has been hospitalized at least 20 times. A soup kitchen worker who got to know Simon, Larry Williamson, said that he was often very angry at doctors and the medical establishment. He said Simon believed hospitals had discharged him before he was ready to live on his own.

Most people with severe mental illnesses do not become violent. With support from therapists and case managers, they often can live independently and hold a job. With the reduction of psychiatric hospital beds to make room for COVID-19 hospitalizations, many of those needing mental health services are being discharged without plans for future treatment. Hospitals are supposed to connect patients with outside care providers once they become stable, but many hospitals are refusing to admit patients they deem too disruptive. According to New York schizophrenia expert Dr. Xavier Amador, “People do not ‘fall between the cracks,' ...“In our mental health care system, they are pushed between the cracks. They’re pushed out the door, and there’s an abyss.”


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