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“Housing of the mentally ill is an issue that must be tackled before a mental patient seriously injures someone,” says Mayor Wagner

Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2022. 10:09 am CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: Following the shooting death of a mentally ill man by police last week, Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner is calling on society as a whole to take ownership of dealing with mental patients.

Wagner said that the issue of mentally ill people walking the street is worsening; a problem he said dates back to when a decision was taken to deinstitutionalize such people.

Wagner said that any solution to the issue will require a multi-faceted approach, pulling resources from the public and private sectors alike. He stressed that the matter needs to be addressed with some urgency.

“Everybody has to be a part of the solution, we can’t sit on the side…” Wagner said. “What will happen one of these days, one of our kids out there will be mauled by one of those people out there.”

Wagner went on to say that he is encouraged by the fact that the Government of Belize is putting together a team to once again look into the possibility of institutionalizing mentally ill people and said that the council stands ready to lend its support.

On Wednesday, November 23, 48-year-old Francis Ramos had a mental episode on the Swing Bridge in Belize City and attacked a police officer with a large kitchen knife.

The officer shot Ramos several times, eventually killing him. In the aftermath of the incident, the Belize Mental Health Association called for the establishment of a legal framework for the institutionalization of mentally ill persons who pose a danger to themselves and their surroundings.

 

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