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What to do when you encounter someone in a full mental health crisis




Homeless people sit near a mural after waking up before dawn to dismantle their beds and encampments before businesses open in the downtown L.A.
Homeless people sit near a mural after waking up before dawn to dismantle their beds and encampments before businesses open in the downtown L.A.
David McNew/Getty Images

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On Saturday afternoon, a man was brutally beaten while walking down the street in downtown Los Angeles. He was punched, kicked and left bleeding on the sidewalk. The attack was only stopped when a security guard at the nearby Whole Foods intervened.

The victim, who is a senior, is in critical condition.

The perpetrator is a mentally unstable transient who was arrested and charged with attempted murder. Whether he's mentally stable enough to understand his actions, let alone stand trial for them, is another matter.

The violence of this incident is uncommon but as anyone who frequents downtown, which is home to L.A.'s Skid Row, can confirm: encountering homeless people who are mentally ill, on drugs, or both does happen.

After the attack last weekend,  people are understandably nervous.

While not everyone who is mentally unstable is dangerous, Joey Aguilar from the Skid Row Housing Trust, which provides services including housing and mental health care, has a few tips to stay safe.