Amending A1181: Mental illness is not a crime!
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The recent Amendment to the duty to warn law A1181 is a law that actually hurts rather than helps mental health professionals help those who are considering suicide.
I have worked as a Mental Health Screener in Middlesex County for three years. A1181 mandates that mental health professionals call law enforcement if the patient voluntarily admits him/herself for suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are already heavily stigmatized. This law discourages and penalizes people with suicidal thoughts from expressing them at all to mental health professionals, and makes it more likely for them to commit suicide. Additionally, this law does nothing more to protect the lives of others, as if people express thoughts of hurting others, we are already required to call law enforcement.
The legislature had good intentions in helping those who need help, but this does exactly the opposite. My proposal is to amend the language to exclude mental health professionals from being required to report people expressing suicidal thoughts who are voluntary for treatment to law enforcement.
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