I am sure you have heard the story about Senator Deeds who was attacked by his son back in November. Story in November
Deeds has been talking to the media about how The System Failed His Son. Part of the problem is the limitations of what the hospital itself can do. Limitations of what the family can do is another problem. Yet, another challenge is to get the person to realize that they need help and seek it out without shame.
The media can take the opportunity when a crime is committed by someone who is mentally to educate about the illness, to let others know that it is ok to seek out help, and let people know where the resources are. Blog I wrote About This In the recent tragedies and in this story, how many times have you heard any of these things mentioned?
If Gus felt more comfortable talking about it without the fear of being judged, would things have been different?
If Gus understood more about his illness would it have made a difference? If he knew that by not taking the symptoms more seriously, that he would someday do what he did? Mental illness is not fair, can affect anyone at any time, it is misunderstood by many people, but can be treated.
He had displayed irregular behavior and it was suspected by his family that he had a mental illness. If they were more educated about the symptoms and what they meant, would it have mattered? (I am not blaming family here, but a lack of society knowing about the signs and symptoms.)
It had to be frustrating for his dad when he asked Gus to grant him the ability to a power of attorney so he could get a sense of the medical situation Gus was facing and he never would because he was afraid of giving up control. If Senator Creeds had known more about the mental illness he was diagnosed with (if he was), could he have learned more about it and how to help his son?
If indeed, he was diagnosed with a mental illness and he stopped taking his medications or they needed to be adjusted, would things have been different?
There are a lot of “what ifs” and there is no way of knowing the answers to any of these questions for sure. However, there is a possibility that Gus might not have even been in a spot where it had become an emergency and he needed to go to the hospital. It is easy to blame it all on how the doctor thought he wasn’t suicidal, they didn’t have a bed, and he was not sent home 6 hours later. However, is that all there is to blame?
I am not a professional, but I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17. From what hear about the years leading up to the incident, I would have to say it would be good suspicion that he had bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. There are so many ways to find out if you or someone you love might have a mental illness. If it is suspected, you should get them evaluated by a professional. In this case, in an interview with Deeds, I heard him talk about his son having delusions of grandeur, being overly religious (over the top), being distant, making knives, saying he was suicidal, and seeming fine and productive at times and then at other times showing odd behavior or struggling.
I am not sure if we will ever know if he had been seeing a psychiatrist, if he had been on psychiatric medications, or if he was taking them that fateful day. My suspicion is that he had sought out help at some point and was under the care of someone who was prescribing him psychiatric medications. This is because his dad asked him at one point if he had gone off his medications.
There is a high probability that either his medications needed to be adjusted or he had stopped them due to side effects, thought they weren’t needed anymore, or some other reason. If people are in need of being on particular medications and they are not working, people with mental illnesses do things they normally would not do. I do want to point out that less than 1% of those with a mental illness are violent.
So, in my opinion, it is not just the system that only allowed his son to go home after 6 hours because there was no bed. No one in particular is to blame, especially Gus’s family. More needs to be done to educate society about the signs, symptoms, and resources available if you or someone you know needs help.
It really should not come to a visit to the hospital if someone with a mental illness is taking the illness seriously, educating themselves about what they can do, getting under a professional’s care if needed, and communicating with others that they have a mental illness and how they can help if they see that they are in a crisis situation.
There needs to be an action plan. Yes, more beds need to be available, but what politicians don’t seem to realize is that throwing money at the mental health system is not necessarily going to fix things. More can be done than just increasing beds. Things can be done like preventive care. The body needs to be treated as a whole. There can be other places for people to go for short term help instead of clogging up ERs. There can be more education in the community.
Did the system let the Deeds family down? Yes- They sent him home after 6 hours because they did not have a bed and according to the doctor was not showing signs of suicide. However, more than just the system let him down. We, as society, let him down. We can learn something from this tragedy. Use the media and politicians and people with influence (actors, athletes,etc) to start educating people about the signs, what the illnesses are, where the resources are, and spreading the word that it is ok to get help. If you are not a person with influence and recognize someone is not acting right, let someone know or encourage them to get help if you feel comfortable.