Mental Health Looms Behind Video of Naked Man

click to enlarge A naked man runs from police near San Pedro Avenue. - Screenshot/ user Mirai182
Screenshot/ user Mirai182
A naked man runs from police near San Pedro Avenue.
Late Wednesday night, a video was posted to the San Antonio Reddit page with the title "Cocaine is a helluva drug. [NSFW]."

The minute-long video showed a naked man standing on top of a vehicle, and then running from San Antonio police officers down San Pedro Avenue just north of Downtown.

Little is known about the man in the video. Police received a complaint about him Wednesday afternoon. Although he was eventually caught, the police report for the incident is not yet available. The San Antonio Police Department hasn't released the man's identity yet because he hasn't been formally charged with a crime. 

It's unknown if he's homeless, if he had used drugs before the incident or if he suffers from any mental illness. But after police took him into custody, he was placed under emergency detention, a step that SAPD takes for individuals who "look like they have maybe mental health issues or if they're on drugs," said SAPD spokeswoman Romana Lopez. The incident also took place in part of town that's notorious for drug use and vagrancy.

The man was admitted to University Hospital yesterday after police detained him, and he is still there. When he's released from emergency detention, he could be charged with criminal mischief, evading arrest and resisting arrest, according to Lopez. The punishments for such crimes include several thousand dollars in fines and potential jail time.

Although shocking to many, hearing about the video didn't surprise Scott Ackerson, vice president of strategic relationships at Haven for Hope and a mental health expert for the shelter.

Ackerson is a social services veteran. He said one thing his experience has taught him is that the potential consequences of severe mental illness — losing one's job, becoming homeless, self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to cope — can have a compounding effect. And debilitating as they may be, they're seldom regarded in the same way as more visibly apparent conditions.

"If you got to a cocktail party and somebody broke their foot ... they're very willing to talk about their physical injuries. But almost never ... do you hear someone say 'My bipolar disorder has been flaring up lately,'" Ackerson said. "Mental illness is so stigmatized, we don't talk about it."

Even though the man was placed under emergency detention, his mental condition is unclear. But mental illness and addiction are common on San Antonio's streets, as in most places with a sizable homeless population.

Homeless people who are mentally ill are often unaware of what resources are available to them, or unable to locate them on their own, Ackerson said. The day-to-day grind of living on the streets erodes mental health. Drug and alcohol addictions, which may ease short-term pain, speed up the process.

If you or someone you know suffers from a mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse, Ackerson suggested the following resources, some of which are specifically for people with little or no income:

Center for Health Care Services
3031 I-10 W. 
(210) 223-7233

Haven for Hope
1 Haven for Hope Way
(210) 220-2100

South Texas Veterans Health Care System


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