Letters To The Editor


July 26, 2006

Mental illness isn't linked to violence

The Sun's article "Hospitals face intrusion of violent world into facilities" (July 17) highlighted a violent event that took place in the Howard County General Hospital's Emergency Department. The article suggests a link between violent incidents and people with mental illness, despite the fact that there are no indications that those involved in the violence are or were mentally ill.

As a forensic psychiatrist and former director of the psychiatric emergency service at University of Maryland Medical System, I recognize that one must always be concerned about the risk posed by individuals with cognitive, mood or psychotic disorders, especially in an emergency setting where little may be known about the patient.

However, in my experience, individuals who are actively using controlled substances, whether mentally ill or not, are far more likely to pose a threat of violence than are those who are not using such substances. And mental illness alone poses relatively little risk over and above the risk posed by the general population.

My experience is largely borne out in the psychiatric research literature.

This does not mean that one should not always be on his or her guard. While violence is rare in an emergency room, it does happen and people working in such settings must remain vigilant at all times.

But the best solution to this problem is prevention -- which can almost always be accomplished by ensuring that staff take detailed histories from patients and, most importantly, that people are treated with respect -- a commodity often missing in a busy emergency department.

Dr. Erik Roskes


Kane gives Bush too much credit

Gregory Kane suggests that President Bush should be given more credit for what he's done for African-Americans ("NAACP ought to give Bush some credit," July 19).

As an example, he cites a New York Times article indicating that "homeownership among black Americans was less than 43 percent before 1995, rose to 49.7 percent in 2004, and dipped only a wee bit to 48.8 percent in 2005."

It seemed odd to use figures that begin in 1995, when the president took office in 2001. So I looked up the data on the Web.

Sure enough, in 2001, black home ownership was 47.7 percent. This means that more than three-quarters of the improvement Mr. Kane attributes to the president took place before he became president.

After 2001, the figures, according to the U.S. Census Bureau are 47.4 percent for 2002, 48.1 for 2003, 49.1 for 2004, and 48.2 for 2005

Thus, during the president's term there has been hardly any further improvement in the percentage of black home ownership.

Put another way, the "wee" decline in 2005 wiped out most of the "improvement" during the president's term.

Mr. Kane should select his facts more critically.

Could it be that he is as biased in favor of the president as he says the NAACP is against him?

Joseph B. Margolick


It's right to fight razing Rochambeau

I'd like to commend Baltimore Heritage Inc. and its attorney, John Murphy, for their continued attempt to save the Rochambeau ("Groups fight for Rochambeau," July 22).

Not only does it look like the Archdiocese of Baltimore will demolish another part of Baltimore's vanishing history but the church would not be putting the land and property at its very best and highest use.

Why not renovate the building as short-term living units for those who travel to Baltimore to study, vacation and be near the historic Basilica?

The top floor could be gutted and completely opened up as an observatory and information center to enhance the destination.

Besides, why would anybody want to put a prayer garden on this noisy, well-traveled corner?

Robert H. Paul


Lebanese casualties win little concern

As an American citizen, I am also confused about this new conflict between Israel and Lebanon ("New conflict in Mideast confounds U.S. and Israel," July 23).

And I am beginning to feel very uncomfortable concerning the imbalance in our treatment of the issues that are important to Israelis and those critical to Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world.

What I see in the news is the destruction of the infrastructure of a whole country (Lebanon) instead of the punishment of the extremists in that country.

Yet nobody seems to care about the many Lebanese civilians killed, as if some dead human beings were less important than others.

And politicians in both parties talk as if the interests of our country were identical with those of Israel.

If war is hell, as a general once said, why do we, as human beings, still continue supporting war to deal with human conflicts?

Jaime Lievano


This time let Israel finish its enemies

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