by The Grenada Association of Professional Social Workers
Organisations call for independent inquiry into shooting incidents of psychiatrically ill patients!
The Grenada Association of Professional Social Workers (GAPSW) Inc, and the Grenada Human Rights Association (GHRO) Inc., wish to raise concerns regarding the most recent shooting of a mentally ill man in St Patrick on Wednesday, 19 January 2022.
Unfortunately, this is not the first incident of a psychiatrically ill patient to be fatally wounded by the police.
Whilst we recognise the need for the police to execute their duties in protecting the public and themselves, however, when responding to urgent situations and having to make swift decisions on how to react, there needs to be greater awareness of the needs of persons with mental health issues.
Although we are not apportioning blame — we are extremely concerned that these vulnerable persons who are often acutely distressed at the time — shooting to kill is deemed as the most appropriate intervention. It is also disturbing, that there has been no further update from the police on this incident.
Relatives need to feel confident that when they request assistance from the police, it will not result in the death of their loved ones.
As far as we are aware, there has been no inquiry into the previous shooting deaths of people with psychiatric disorders. If the [Royal Grenada Police] Force is to learn and improve practice, change is what needs to occur. We are therefore calling for an independent inquiry to ascertain the facts and to help educate the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) to take a more appropriate and sensitive approach in dealing with volatile psychiatrically ill patients in the community.
We are once again calling on the Government to revisit the 2008 draft Mental Health Bill, as this incident has proven that there are many patients living with enduring mental health problems in the community who are likely to not be in receipt of a coordinated service.
The need for a more updated mental health legislation to improve the antiquated services that are current is long overdue. A far cry from the Government’s commitment to improving mental health services as part of their millennium development goal objective.
It is time that mentally ill persons receive a service that acknowledges their rights to be treated with dignity and respect and their carers’ expectation of realistic support are realised.