Mental Illness and the Homelessby Representative Tim Murphy
Posted on 2015-01-14
MURPHY of Pennsylvania asked and was given permission to address
the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, last week, the wind chill in
Buffalo, New York, was 20 below zero. Dead of hypothermia was Ronald
Hunter. He was 21 and had untreated schizophrenia.
A third of the Nation's 750,000 homeless are so severely mentally ill that they cannot take care of themselves. They starve, they freeze, they live in their own squalor.
Had Ronald had some other brain disease like Alzheimer's, he might very well be alive today, but because he had a mental illness, the system refused to help.
Ronald's father told The Buffalo News: ``When he was living with us, I found him curled up in a ball in the corner of the bedroom,'' and I said, ``What is wrong, baby?'' He replied to his dad, ``I am hearing voices telling me to kill myself.'' Ronald's parents called Crisis Services, but as his stepmom said, ``Because he was 18, it was up to him if he wanted help.'' In other words, we let him die with his rights on.
Don't you understand, America, that this is a brain disease; it is not a choice? I will soon be reintroducing the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis [[Page H363]] Act, and I invite all Members to join me in rebuilding our broken mental health system, so that we have treatment before there is tragedy.