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Mental health organization releases statement on recent shooting in Paso Robles 

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–The National Alliance on Mental Illness San Luis Obispo County released the following statement regarding the recent shootings in North County:
For those of us in the mental health community, the tragic shootings in North County which wounded several peace officers, killed a homeless man and resulted in the death of a severely mentally ill man is our worst nightmare. Months of red flag behavior in Oregon and California, establishing that Mason Lira was a danger to himself and others, did not result in his receiving effective treatment to relieve the symptoms of his schizophrenia. What went wrong?

We know that mental illness is not a rare condition. One in five adults worldwide will experience some form of mental illness in any given year. One in every 25 adults is living with a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or long-term recurring major depression. In most cases, symptoms emerge in late adolescence and early adulthood. The key to recovery is to be able to recognize the emerging symptoms of mental illness and get help as soon as possible. With appropriate treatment, most people will go on to live enjoyable, productive lives. Sadly, Mason Lira did not get the help he needed when he needed it.

Our hearts go out to the injured officers and their families. We offer them our thanks for their sacrifices and wish them a speedy return to the fullness of health and wellbeing. Our hearts also go out to James Watson’s family as they mourn the loss of their son and brother. We know that people have been traumatized by the events over the past days and so we will be providing additional online NAMI Family Support groups on Monday evenings for anyone needing a safe place to process their feelings. To participate, please call (805) 236-1007. Finally, we offer our sincere condolences to Mason Lira’s family and wish there had been a better outcome to his struggle with mental illness. As our sheriff said, “This was not a win.”

Pam Zweifel, President
NAMI San Luis Obispo County

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