“Threadbare policies, broken promises, short-sighted decisions, and persistent underfunding over decades” means that in Massachusetts, the seriously mentally ill, including those at greatest risk of harming others or themselves, too often left in the care of parents, police, prison guards, judges, shelter workers, and emergency room personnel, says a Boston Globe investigation. The evidence is everywhere. In May, Arthur DaRose fatally stabbed two people, one at a shopping mall, before an off-duty deputy sheriff shot him dead. DaRosa had been released from a hospital hours earlier, even though relatives said he had threatened to kill himself and said the devil was trying to poison the minds of his children.
Three weeks later, a 24-year-old man left a suicide note confessing to fatally stabbing a 76-year-old neighbor for no apparent reason. “He wasn’t evil. He wasn’t bad,” said the victim’s daughter. “He was mentally ill, and he didn’t get the help he needed.” The Globe says, “Such attacks have come to seem part of the grim staccato of modern life — at times random, often inexplicable, and now stunningly common. Since 2005, more than 10 percent of all Massachusetts homicides in which a suspect is known were allegedly committed by people with a history of mental illness or its clear symptoms, the newspaper determined by building the first database of such cases. At least 139 people in Massachusetts have died violently at the hands of a person with a diagnosed mental illness or strong indications of one during this period.