Thursday, January 27, 2005

Shrinks and lawyers, Part II

Yesterday a distraught man named Juan Manuel Alvarez planned to kill himself by parking his SUV in front of a commuter train in L.A. At the last moment, he changed his mind and abandoned the vehicle on the tracks. The train hit his truck, derailed, and smashed into an oncoming train. 11 people died. Mr. Alvarez was arrested at the scene, and has been charged with murder, carrying the possibility of a death sentence.

Strange thing #1: Had Mr. Alvarez met me before this all happened, he likely would have wound up in a psychiatric hospital. We would have expended enormous resources and (likely) taxpayer money in an effort to reduce his suicidality and keep him alive. If, as his psychiatrist, I failed to keep him alive, there would be inquiries and investigations.

Instead, however, the L.A. County D.A.’s office will now expend enormous resources and taxpayer money to convict Mr. Alvarez, and possibly execute him. If they succeed in executing him, they may be praised for their hard work and skillful prosecution.

Strange thing #2: What does it mean that someone wants to die in his SUV?


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