Regarding the Aug. 5 news article “Independent living a bad fit for sick man, sister says”: James Clark did not die at age 66 of trying to live independently. It is likely that the combination of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with labored breathing, smoking, anxiety and panic attacks with fast, shallow breathing and resultant gagging and vomiting and high blood pressure killed him.
People with serious mental illnesses commonly have many co-morbid physical conditions. Those in the public behavioral health care system die 20 to 25 years before the general population.
Clark’s team with peer support specialists mentored him in providing food for himself, taking his medications on his own, arranging transportation and appointments, cleaning his apartment, paying bills and keeping a calendar.
But the unaddressed problem for adults in the system is lack of care coordination between psychiatrist, psychologist, pulmonologist, neurologist, gastroenterologist and cardiologist. African-Americans in the system also tend to receive too little treatment too late.
It is sad that Clark did not live longer to experience independence and living in an inclusive community with dignity.