Wow. A reader sent me a link to a news story by Isabel Teotonio that is disturbing, to say the least:
When Lois Kamenitz arrived at Pearson International Airport in November, hoping to board a flight to California, she was stunned to learn that U.S. border officials were barring her entry. The reason: Years ago, she attempted suicide.
The 64 year-old Toronto woman was fingerprinted and photographed. She questioned the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer about how he accessed her medical records. He said he didn’t. Instead, he knew police had attended her Toronto home in 2006 because she had done “violence to self.”
It’s not an isolated incident, says Ryan Fritsch, legal counsel for the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office. He has heard of about eight similar cases in the past year, all involving non-criminal contact between police and people with mental health issues — records of contact that end up at the Department of Homeland Security.
“These kinds of disclosures and the retention of this kind of information has a chilling effect on persons with mental illness,” said Fritsch, who fears people will think twice before calling 911. “A mental crisis should not be a lifelong sentence for stigma and discrimination.”
Read more in the Toronto Star.