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View Diary: Let Me Tell You How The Aurora, CO Tragedy Will Play Out (264 comments)

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  •  There was a (35+ / 0-)

    New York Times article to this effect a few weeks ago: When My Crazy Father Actually Lost His Mind

    There is very little recourse for people dealing with mentally ill loved ones, and no help is on the way.  They cycle through short-term hospitalization, short-term prison, and back again.  As a supposedly "civilized" Western--and rich--society, I would guess we are bringing up the rear here too.  

    According to Fuller’s group, there was one public psychiatric bed for every 300 Americans in 1955; by 2012, that number was one for every 7,000. That’s less than a third of what is needed, the organization asserts. The recession has made matters worse: since late 2008, more than $1.5 billion has been cut from state mental health budgets across the country. In the past two years alone, 12 state hospitals with a total of nearly 4,000 beds have either closed or are in danger of closing.
    This is not to say that the myriad horrors of institutionalization in the 1950s and earlier were all that much better than the NO HELP we have now, but it's not an either-or choice.  

    Surely we can do better than this.

    "If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life." — Albert Schweitzer

    by mozartssister on Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 02:49:56 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for that link (22+ / 0-)

      The story shows that, however dangerous the shooter's mother may have thought his mental condition was, there was simply very little she could do. She could have tried.

      Two cases noted by the author of parents in apparently similar situations:

      A California law requires mental health professionals to consider information supplied by family members during a commitment evaluation, but Candy DeWitt, who lives in Alameda, told me that some screeners would consider only her son’s behavior at the time of evaluation. “I’d fill out the form, listing all the dangerous things he’d done, and my husband would bring it down to the hospital,” she said. “One lady would completely ignore it and go just by what she saw in her 15-minute evaluation. And he’d be released. The next week he’d end up back in, and a different lady would look at the same form, with the same information, and send him to a hospital.” DeWitt saw her son, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, through five years’ worth of hospitalizations. This past February, he was charged with killing a man, just weeks after being released from a short-term-care facility against his parents’ pleading. In March, he was deemed unfit to stand trial and sent to a state hospital, where he is now being medicated. “It’s one of the most upsetting parts,” DeWitt said. “They wouldn’t treat him against his will before this happened, even though we begged them to. But now they will. Now that it’s too late.”

      Joe Bruce’s story is particularly haunting. In 2005, his son William, who had schizophrenia, was discharged from a mental health facility, even though he had recently threatened two people with a gun. Bruce remembers begging the facility to reconsider. “I said: ‘In all likelihood, he is going to kill someone. And in all likelihood, that someone is going to be her.’ And I pointed to my wife and asked them: ‘Do you understand? Do. You. Understand?’ And they let him out anyway.” One year later, William killed his mother with a hatchet.

      In most of the stories I heard, hospitalizations and incarcerations quickly became indistinguishable. Neither offered a path to recovery, each only a brief respite from constant worry. “You spend all your time thinking about where they are and if they’re O.K., and what’s going to happen next,” Candy DeWitt said. “And when you get the call that they’ve been arrested or that they’ve been sentenced to jail, that terror that you felt is replaced with this overwhelming sadness.”

      "This overwhelming sadness" sounds like this young man's mother talking to ABC as she prepared to fly to Colorado and help the police in any way she now could.

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