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We mourn the passing of DJ Jaffe, an out spoken advocate for the seriously mentally ill

A Statement from the Treatment Advocacy Center

DJ Jaffe

The Treatment Advocacy Center mourns the passing of cherished friend and former board member, DJ Jaffe. Jaffe, a longtime, relentless pioneer in efforts to prioritize the care of those with severe mental illness, passed away at his home in New York City.

DJ’s bold and often provocative voice brought unprecedented attention to how our mental health system fails those most in need and their families. His clear and direct manner “afflicted the comfortable,” and forced us to confront the consequences of our failure to prioritize those with the most serious mental illness, warts and all.

He never shied from important battles, whether it was leading the charge for passage of Kendra’s Law in New York, demanding accountability for the failures of California’s Prop. 63 funding program or calling out cynical federal policymakers as they played politics with the mental health reforms of the 21st Century Cures Act.

“Since 1998, when we first started making plans for what became the Treatment Advocacy Center, DJ was the single most effective advocate I worked with and a close personal friend,” said Treatment Advocacy Center Founder Dr. E. Fuller Torrey. “The amount of time and energy he invested in this mission, first at TAC and then at Mental Illness Policy Org, is legendary. The remarkable success of his book, Insane Consequences, was a further reflection of his ability to mobilize families to bring about change.”

Treatment Advocacy Center Executive Director John Snook fondly recalled a memorable first meeting with Jaffe some 20 years ago, when he was fresh out of law school.

“We were testifying at a contentious hearing in New York’s City Hall. DJ was in rare form. At the first challenge by the chair, DJ was out of his seat, calling out the assembled council for their failures and their cowardice. Eventually, we were escorted out of the hearing by security.

 
“It remains, to this day, the only hearing I’ve ever been thrown out of.”

DJ’s ability to “stir passion” and his “relentlessness” were two of his most remarkable qualities, Snook added. “May we all strive to have his courage of conviction. We will dearly miss DJ, but we know his legacy of advocacy will live on.”

In an effort to honor DJ, Barbara and E. Fuller Torrey are endowing a new advocacy position at TAC specifically named after DJ. Just as colleges have named professorships, so TAC will have a named advocate position. Those interested in celebrating DJ’s legacy through a memorial tribute gift may do so by visiting www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/dj_memorial_fund.

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