Mentally Ill People Not Receiving Treatment 16 Times More Likely To Be Killed By The Police

First Posted: Dec 12, 2015 05:48 PM EST

Individuals with a mental illness are 16 times more likely to get killed during police encounters than other civilians without mental health issues, according to a new report from the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center.

Researchers found that about one in four fatal police encounters involve someone with mental illness.

"If this were any other medical condition, people would be up in arms," said John Snook, the report's co-author and executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, via USA Today. "What we need to do is treat the person before the police are ever called. This is a mental illness, but we respond by calling the police and arresting a person."

Eight million American adults are estimated to suffer from serious mental conditions, ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia. However, the Treatment Advocacy Center notes that about 50 percent of these patients do not take medicine or receive proper care.

Health officials push on providing better treatments to decrease the role of mental illness in crimes that include fatal police encounters.

"By dismantling the mental illness treatment system, we have turned mental health crisis from a medical issue into a police matter," concluded Snook.

More information regarding the report, titled "Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters," can be found here

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