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Shooting deaths spark call for mental health overhaul

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Shooting deaths spark call for mental health overhaul

Tragedies like the shooting death of Sydney man Adam Salter will happen again without systemic change to Australia's mental health system, experts say.

Mr Salter was shot and killed at his Lakemba home in November 2009 after police responded to a call that he was trying to stab himself with a knife.

He was shot in the back by a police sergeant who yelled "Taser, Taser, Taser" before discharging her firearm.

The police actions on the day, and the Critical Incident Investigation which followed, were sharply criticised by the deputy state coroner for New South Wales, Scott Mitchell, at last year's inquest.

And now mental health advocates have told ABC1's Four Corners program that Mr Salter's case was a "failure of care".

In July 2008, Mr Salter suffered a psychotic episode and spent time as an involuntary patient at the Concord Centre for Mental Health.

He was discharged into the care of the local community mental health team and his GP.

However, there was no follow-up from the mental health team until they were contacted by Mr Salter’s family months later.

Mr Salter's family said they were never told of the high risk that Adam would relapse.

"It's quite clear from the history of this case, including the period of involuntary treatment, that the case was extremely serious," said Ian Hickie, Professor of Psychiatry at Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Research Institute.

"That's like going to intensive care in other aspects of the medical system ... the implications of that are not just for the short-term, they're very much for the longer-term care."

Mental health advocate and former Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry added: "I think the discharge of people with serious mental illness to unsupported primary care is really a failure of care.

"These are complex illnesses; they require specialist training, multi-disciplinary teams."

In November 2009, Mr Salter underwent a second psychotic episode and tried to kill himself in the kitchen of his home.

Showing little regard for his own safety, his father Adrian managed to disarm him, dial emergency assistance, and get help.

The police arrived and within minutes Adam was dead.

Call for change

New research by the Australian Institute of Criminology, due to be published soon and disclosed today for the first time, reveals that from 1990 until the middle of 2011, 40 per cent of people who were fatally shot by the police were suffering from a mental illness.

In NSW, the fatalities included Mr Salter; Elijah Holcombe (shot dead in Armadale in 2009); and Roni Levi (shot dead on Bondi Beach in 1997).

In Victoria, the fatalities included the shooting death of Tyler Cassidy in 2008.

At age 15, he is believed to be the youngest person ever shot dead by police in Australia.

Professor McGorry told Four Corners that during his career he has had to disarm patients, and outcomes like those in the Salter case are unacceptable.

"On several occasions in my career I've been faced with people armed with knives and fortunately, although they were dangerous situations, I have been able to do that," he said.

"But this is an occupational hazard of people working in the police services and in acute mental health settings, and so we have to actually be able to expect and respond to these situations without tragic outcomes.

"We just can't accept that that's going to be a common occurrence."

Professor Hickie warns unless there is systemic change within Australia's mental health services, tragedies like the Salter case will continue to occur.

"What is entirely predictable in these situations, entirely predictable, is that they will recur," he said.

"If you do not have the systems in place people will die, and it will mainly be the people with illnesses themselves or their close family members.

"If you look over the last 20 years in Australia you can find an incident in each state, in each place, in each year, where a coroner does another report, where police do another report, where there's another state government inquiry.

"We've now had human rights inquiries, senate inquiries.

"I'm now part of a national commission to review these sets of issues.

"But what is entirely predictable is if there is no serious system change to this hard end of the business, these tragedies will recur."

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He was shot in the back by a police sergeant who yelled "Taser, Taser, Taser" before discharging her firearm.

so, the police officer killed a man in an attempt to prevent him from harming himself?

bet the cunt got off scott free too, or at best "received counselling".

Edited by qualia

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yeah what the fuck...

"if you attempt to kill yourself we will kill you, in the name of your safety"

kind of doesn't make sense...

what i found most disturbing/tragic in that article was the part about the killing of a 15yr old, like as if shooting anyone is bad enough, but someone that young...

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What you guys need to realise is that this happened in an area of Sydney where there are HEAPS of gun-toting gangsta's (Lakemba is also home to my favourite restaurant in the world !). So I would imagine the coppers in the Canterbury-Bankstown district would all be on a constant state of edginess that might contribute to them being a bit trigger happy.

Not that 'm making excuses, just painting a picture for you out of towners that the LAC's around there are the Bronx of Sydney. Hell even a few years ago a cop-shop was victim to a drive-by shooting. A cop shop !

Personally those pigs need to be better trained if theyre shooting people to death. It's instilled into them to go for the torso in a protective situation of physical threat, but fuck, in this case he had a knife. Could they have not plugged a few rounds into his legs ?

I guess a dead man can't appear inn court, can he ?

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yeah man, a knife hey... pretty sure a cop with protective clothing and a gun/taser what ever, at a distance from someone holding a knife isn't in too much danger... and yeah a leg or an arm... surely there was a better way.

maybe the message they're sending is dont fuck with the authority, suicide (is it?) is illegal and we'll kill any cunt that tries to fuck with the law

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in that part of sydney, it's a very bad idea for cops to go shooting people. if the vitim in this story were middle-eastern, tthere would be a fucking urban war on their hands. Like I said, cop shps have already been shot up in the past (in Lakemba & Wiley Park)

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we don't know much about the situation, it doesn't paint a very full picture EG the father had already disarmed the mental patient...

but FYI

bulletproof vests are not knife proof vests,

AND

if somebody with a holstered pistol is charged by a committed attacker with a knife at twenty feet, they're gonna get stabbed, so i hear.

i'm no police apologist but if shooting is justified then the only way is shoot to destroy.

Edited by ThunderIdeal

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bulletproof vests are not knife proof vests,

Are you sure about that, in this day & age ?I was of the impression that around 20 years ago the ballistics vest technology changed so that soft model protection as worn by coppers would withstand slashing, stabbing & small calibre projectile penetration.

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but if they got a call about a guy with a knife, dont you think they should pull the weapon out of the holster before entering the house/room?

i mean the knife person could always through the knife, so there is that... but if the police officer did indeed ready the weapon before entering into the area, then the action of throwing a knife would be slower than shooting a gun/taser, please correct me if i'm wrong...

i think shooting a gun is rarely justified, especially if the "offenders" have no guns themselves.

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a policeman shot dead my uncle. i can't elaborate, as i have never been game enough to ask my father what was done to warrant such an event, but still, the people that get shot have families like everyone else. a young kid with a knife especially should not be shot, a policeman would have clear reach advantage even without his/her baton. a taser and some pepper spray may have not only saved a life, but prevented any injury at all. the media made it seem like this particular kid was commiting 'suicide by cop' but the chinese whispers i here on the streets tell a different story. it is a sad thing to happen, and there needs to be a better option for the police than the gun and bullet, even if they were to start using non lethal projectiles in their firearms like rubber bullets or bean bag rounds...

edit: about the same kid in vic, the vic police didnt (and i believe still dont) have taser guns, only bullet guns.

Edited by dionysus

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I was shot 4 times by the police they covered the whole circumstances up incarcerated me and labelled me as mentally ill, i called them for help as i presumed someone was breaking into my house, i had called them previously due to a person running around ppls backyards in the nude(including my own), when they arrived i was intoxicated as it was 3am and very dark night they arrived in a unmarked car and ununiformed with no way of recognising them as police officers, i went outside to investigate took a hunting knife with me in fear of my own safety and my familys, i asked police over twenty times to identify themselves as police officers they responded by shooting me....it takes one year of police training to carry a firearm and the power to take a life, whereas a surgeon trains for 6 years to save a life there is a mathematical wrongness to this, those who serve and protect are quite often corrupt in there actions, the media labelled the police as heros and me as a literal psychopath, at my committal hearing, the most respected detective was cleary caught lying by my solicitor thus committing perjury, nothing even came of this, the crimes misconduct committee found no wrong doing by police involved in these circumstances..im one of the few ppl who have lived to tell there story, makes one wonder the circumstances of countless other police shootings that have been covered up....we only have to look at the shooting of tyler cassidy who was 15 years of age who was shot in the head! They could of released a trained police dog to disarm him as thats whats there dogs are supposedly trained to do...the sad truth is police are trained in military strong arm tactics with a severe lack of training to deal with circumstances and trigger happy ego...FTP!

Edited by applesnail

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holy shit, that's pretty fucked up (both apple and dion), the cost of protecting you i guess, perhaps from yourself.

i think everyone should be put in jail.

next time a kid is making a scene in a shop, shoot him dead.

one of my dad's brother's committed suicide, i've also never been game to ask how, why, when, etc...

Edited by chnt

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The system fails again. My step brother has serious mental issues which are only made worse by his epilepsy and constant drug consumption that reacts with his medicine. He makes threats against himself and others when he has his episodes, and all the police and social services could say was that they couldnt do anything until he hurt someone. epic fail.

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There was 16 year old girl on the gold coast who had called an ambulance as her friend had collapsed she approached police officers, they responded by tasering her, another guy they tasered in QLD they literally cooked him the neighbour next door could smell his flesh burning as they continuely depolyed the taser to excess!

http://www.theaustra...3-1111118042752

http://www.whitenews...aser-death.html

Edited by applesnail

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What's this WhiteNewsNow website?

Looks a bit racist to me.

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I don't see why cops need to have guns, they don't in the UK. Guns get deployed in extreme circymstances only, not as a matter of course. I've had a cop hold his gun (holstered) as a threat but luckily never been on the bad end of one. I didn't realise they could be so trigger happy.

Bad shit

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What's this WhiteNewsNow website?

Looks a bit racist to me.

"In other news - Whites still God's chosen people- more at eleven. Here's Adolf with sports!"

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The cop who shot him looks aboriginal... reverse racism.

  • Like 1

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if that was an act of racism it would just be racism.

reverse racism is where you're overly friendly/nice to someone of another race (usually black), like hiring a black person because they are black and for no other reason, this is reverse racism.

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not reverse, it's all discrimination, whether for or against:

treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group,class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discrimination

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JeanLucPicardFacepalm.jpg
  • Like 1

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and as if they dont have enough power lets arm them with apparently non lethal dual tasers! these tasers are used by the US army and police...gosh i love my little americanized australia!

http://www.theaustra...y-1226296142412

gotta love this phrase "to take the guesswork out of aiming" so previously were they guessing where they were aiming? :blink:

Edited by applesnail
  • Like 1

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