The judge is not even sure that the state officials, under these murky circumstances, can pull his concealed weapons permit. (Because the vet has not been charged with a crime, because this is technically a medical, not a criminal case, Im not publishing his name.)
Crisis stabilization, Leifman emphasized, should not be confused with actual treatment for mental illness. And medical science has determined that postponing real treatment after a traumatic, psychotic episode, like last Mondays, can exacerbate a disturbed persons cognitive state, leading to permanent mental damage.
It doesnt much matter under Florida law that his relatives know that the vet will likely slide back into his abyss, that he is in urgent need of hospitalization. Unless the vet presents an immediate threat to himself or others, he cant be forced to undergo treatment.
Of course, like so many of the mentally ill wandering the streets, Leifman said, He has no insight into his own illness.
Yet, until he actually commits a crime, or makes a threat, well leave the crucial decision about treatment for mental illness up to someone in the grip of dangerous delusions.
Most of the mentally ill, of course, arent armed and arent dangerous. Except to their own well-being. Mostly, theyre victims, theyre vulnerable, many of them adrift in the urban landscape, living in a kind of perpetual confusion, with a life expectancy some 25 years less than the average Americans.
Hereabouts, they live in a state that begrudges the cost of mental health services. Florida has been fighting it out with Texas for the distinction of the state that spends the least amount of money per capita on mental health. Leifman said weve finally sunk to dead last in mental health funding.
Its pathetic, he said.
Maybe, once hes stabilized, the vet will agree to hospitalization.
Or maybe hell be back, untreated, to his apocalyptic visions and a house full of assault weapons, living at confluence of two flawed and dangerous public policies.