Mental health advocate decries vigilante beating death of mentally ill man

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Chaneil Imhoff
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By Samantha Simon
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Mental health advocate Chaneil Imhoff is speaking out against the tragic death of a mentally challenged man who succumbed to injuries from a severe beating in April by a vigilante group.

The man had allegedly inappropriately touched a schoolgirl prior to the attack.

“If he was not known to be mentally ill, I don’t think he would have been brutally assaulted in that way,” Imhoff stated.

 “It’s something for us to critically think about, because our attitudes need to change regarding persons with mental illnesses.”

The vicious beating left the man with such severe damage to his left arm that it had to be amputated.

He ultimately died from his injuries at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center.

Imhoff emphasised that while the alleged actions by the mentally ill man were unacceptable, the violent vigilante response was unjustified.

“These are people just like you and I. Mental illness could happen to anyone, so we must be aware and know how to react properly.”

She called for improvements within the justice system itself, rather than persons thinking that it is justified to resort to unlawful vigilante actions.

“If we all take matters into our own hands, we’re living in a constant state of anarchy. We have a justice system for a reason, so let’s work on updating and upgrading that.”

The tragic incident has renewed calls for authorities to enhance psychiatric care and resources for Antigua and Barbuda’s homeless and mentally ill populations to prevent such volatile situations.

Mental health advocates argue that a lack of understanding and insufficient support systems for those with mental health issues can lead to unpredictable behavior, that too often is met with excessive force rather than professional assistance.

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