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 Dealing with Mental Health Issues

Los Angeles, Oct 26, 2022 Sanghera
Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh

The senseless murder of  Constable Shaelyn Yang by a homeless man in a Burnaby park recently has again highlighted the issues of homelessness and mental health. The tragic death of the RCMP Constable is devastating not only for her family but also for the law enforcement community and the community at large. Constable Yang had her whole life and career ahead of her. From the media reports it comes across that Shaelyn was actively involved in helping the homeless and people with mental health issues. This kind hearted young police officer, a Richmond resident, appears to have a heart of gold. Before joining the RCMP three years ago, Shaelyn is reported to volunteer with victim services in Richmond.  

Issues of  homelessness and mental health  are becoming very dominant in our communities. Almost in every community there are homeless people. Most of them appear to suffer from mental health issues. They are crying out for help. Constable Yang’s tragic death  is a proof positive that the accused in this case, like many others in various communities, need professional help. Take for example, the man charged in Mountie Shaelyn Yang’s murder .According to media reports, 37 years old Jongwon Ham was an accomplished artist and film maker. Unfortunately, due to some circumstances , his life took a turn for the worst. This started him on this path of crime and trouble with the law. He has been in and out of jail numerous times. There are countless number of similar stories of people with mental health issues who are constantly in conflict with the law in  our communities. These issues  call for a coordinated approach .

     Our elected and non-elected officials at every level must take these issues very  seriously and take drastic measures  to address them. The first step in this regard should be to provide a safe and supportive environment to people suffering from mental health issues. They need a safe place to call home. At the same time they need to be connected with appropriate mental health professionals .The federal and provincial governments need to make a concerted effort in tackling these issues head on.   That will be a very deserving tribute to Constable Yang. I offer my heartfelt condolences to her family, the RCMP and her colleagues with the Burnaby detachment. May her soul rest in peace!


Balwant Sanghera

( Richmond resident Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)