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Published On: Mon, Jul 26th, 2021

How many more lives must we lose irresponsibly?

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[Publisher’s note: Achken Roberto Richardson writes a letter to the editor after reports were published that a mental healthcare patient was found dead in one of the police cells and a statement by Attorney-at-law Sjamira Roosberg that a mental patient can’t be detained without legal basis.]

Dear Editor,

This is unbelievable to read, as well as is unacceptable.

Who is going to bear this responsibility?

The Mental Healthcare Foundation?

The Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health, the Police Department, the Government of Sint Maarten?

I am no expert in this area, but being involved for over a decade with family members challenged with mental health due to stress, anxiety, and life fears and struggles over extended period of time, I understand very clearly what could have been playing here.

What I know for sure, is that the deceased may have very much been helpless in their last days and hours of life.

What could have that been like? Probably not in the right frame of mind to even know that you are about to die.

This is paining me so very much to the core, because I understand this challenge. And at times I myself very often visit the Mental Healthcare Foundation, and understand what the team and staff go through on a daily basis.

And yes, this life could have been saved. It only takes a loving heart and caring for the other person that will always have you immediately do the right thing for that person, that you know needs your help at that particular point in time.

And even if my statement does not match this situation is not the point.

The fact is that someone died again.

I recommend that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health immediately present something to Parliament on this subject to avoid this from ever happening again by law, if no law and legislations on this matter exists.

I know that there are medications available that can sedate such a mental client to the point that they are no harm to themselves or to others. And all that they would need is to be on 24/7 supervisory care.

Believe me, I am no specialist of mental health, but because of my experiences, I do very much understand the pains and sufferings.

We need to get everyone in Sint Maarten involved and educated in how to respond to such a situation when having to face it.

But the sad thing is that we only respond when this reality visits our own loved ones, families, close friends, or homes.

Must we as government, medical institutions, and people of Sint Maarten allow this to continue to go this far everytime?

How many more lives must we lose irresponsibly?

And who must we hold responsible by law?

Achken Roberto Richardson



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