This week’s Heartlander is Jerome Murdough, a mentally-ill inmate, former Marine, father, son, brother, who died in a New York City prison back in March. His funeral was held this week.
Mr. Murdough, who died in an overheated jail cell, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Unlike other inmates affected by an HVAC system malfunction, Mr. Murdough did not open the window in his cell to let in outside air.
It is possible not one will ever really know how Mr. Murdough died, but what we do know is that individuals with mental illnesses have shorter life expectancies that mentally healthy people. Why that is true is a question with complicated answers. It is a sad commentary on our health care system which made so many advances through the 20th century in treating diseases of the physical self, but so much less progress in treating diseases of the psychic self.
We still struggle to do right by the mentally disabled. Hopefully, a good thing that will emerge from our revised health care system will be more funding and opportunities for mental health treatment. Of course, individuals have to seek it out and accept it. Making it available is only one step, but it is an important step.
To all the Angels now in Heaven, look down on us and smile and please make our World a fairer, kinder more compassionate place.