This is a man I have tried to shelter off and on for years. Today he asked to leave the Houseless Movement house because he was afraid if he didn't he'd kill someone. (He has gone to prison before for attempted murder, so he's not exaggerating.)
This is a man who has serious mental illness. I begged, yelled and pleaded to get him to go to a psychiatrist. He refused to go. (We must learn to understand people who refuse change from addiction, mental illness, physical illness, eating disorders, smoking, hoarding, etc.)
In the end, he chose to walk out into the winter snow. I gave him $200 and a tent. He has a trash bag of belongings.
As so often is the case in this work, I have simultaneous and opposite emotions. I feel the grief of loss of failing this man. And I feel relief that we escaped this chapter without serious physical harm.
I believe we must return to forced mental health treatment facilities that is evolved with our learning from past work. This man will likely either end up in jail (after probably seriously hurting someone) or dead because we don't have any other options for him.
If this story touches you I encourage you to think about a career in mental health. We need new, fresh ideas. We need you.