Month: May 2014

Welfare Check

Sorry but it’s no[t] right or fair or ethical to subject the world to potential danger just to spare the feelings of these parents who foolishly, selfishly bred twice. Either medicate these kids to the zombie level or put them [i]n an institution. They are proven violent and cannot be cured. -Yahoo commenter

The gunman suffered from an undisclosed mental health issue, and was under the care of a variety of health care professionals… -CNN

The first quote is from a comment posted ten days ago in response to this ABCnews.com article about my children in advance of “Born Schizophrenic: Jani and Bodhi’s Journey,” airing this Monday, May 26th, at 10pm (Eastern and Pacific) on Discovery Fit & Health. Nine days before 22 year old Elliot Rodger killed six people and severely wounded 13 others near UC Santa Barbara. The article, although sensationalized and filled with inaccuracies, has over 1300 comments, most of which deal with the issue of whether Jani and Bodhi should have been born. Some attempt to make their point more palatable by saying “Why did these parents have children if there was mental illness in their family?” This is a form of self-denial. Even those who actually were brave enough to use the “E” word (eugenics) don’t want to admit that they share the same thinking as the Nazis, who, as I have also blogged about before, learned the method of efficient human extermination they would later use during the Final Solution first on the mentally ill, mentally disabled, and physically disabled.

That the concept of eugenics is alive and well in 2014 is scary. Oh sure, I get that it’s the internet, where people can anonymously spew crap online and nobody important is actually listening to it. But the problem with that anonymity is that it allows people to say what they would never say face to face with another human being but unfortunately actually think. Or is that the internet simply lends itself to spouting off half thoughts we all have? After all, the electorate aren’t furiously writing their members of Congress to say they want legislation protecting them from the mentally ill. Right? Nobody has brought this issue up in town hall meetings and candidate meet and greets. Right? I don’t hear CNN recording a candidate shaking hands with an elderly couple eating pancakes at some diner in New Hampshire and the elderly couple expressing concern over these dangerous mentally ill who will kill us all if not locked up. Right?

And then Elliot Rodger goes and brutally murders a bunch of people and within hours the term “mentally disturbed” is being used by the actual authorities investigating.

I’m going to pause here while NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) issues their standard statement that the vast majority of individuals with mental illness are not violent.

Have they done it yet?

SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the arm of the Health and Human Services Administration that is charged with government services and policies regarding “mental health”) won’t say anything at all, because mental health for them is essentially depression and anxiety. Psychotic illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar, are not even acknowledged by SAMHSA. I’m serious. They even make no mention of the words.

No, I am not saying Elliot Rodger had schizophrenia or bipolar. I have no idea what he had and can’t speculate from a Youtube video where he calmly plans retribution on the girls who wouldn’t have sex with him and blames us, society, for his still being a virgin at 22. But of course, killing a bunch of people because you identify as being socially rejected is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Society, it seems, has finally stopped saying “Why?!” when a mass killing happens. They are willing to attribute it to mental illness, partially because this information is being released to the press much faster. It used to take months, even years, and by then the story was forgotten. Now it is out there while the dead are still oozing blood onto the pavement. And partially it is because it is true. The vast majority of single event mass killers (as opposed to serial killers) in recent times have had a history of mental “health” problems preceding their horrific crimes against their fellow humans.

And now my children, my precious girl and boy, have been lumped in. They, by bad luck of their respective diagnoses of schizophrenia and autism, “subject the world to potential danger.” Another comment sticks out to me from a mother who would never let her kids around my kids.

I can’t get too angry though because I brought this on. Yes, I did. How many blog entries and Jani Foundation Facebook page posts have I written, drawing a connection between Jared Loughner or James Holmes or Adam Lanza and my children, especially Jani?

My God, what have I done?

I did it with the best of intentions. I did it because I wanted society to understand that we could have prevented what Loughner, Holmes, and Lanza did. They were children once, just like Jani and Bodhi and somewhere along the line, I believed, the non-existent support system for the mentally ill failed them and people died. I believed that if we simply could have mandated inpatient psychiatric treatment for those three young men, we could have saved lives.

Other advocates warned me of the danger of associating these killers with the mentally ill I was ostensibly trying to help, telling me that we would get nowhere in terms of improving treatment options because society does not help those they fear. I dismissed them as cowards for not “owning” these killers as belonging to us, our people.

And now I read about people believing my children should be locked away for the rest of their natural lives because they are either a threat or a burden to society. And they would actually be able to do this if I’d had the influence to bring back the state hospitals, as I have advocated for some time.

But another six people are dead, cut down in what was supposed to be the prime of their life. Of course, if the Federal Government did nothing substantial after 20 children under 7 were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, they probably won’t do anything about this. Right now the instinct is to find the Adam Lanzas and Elliot Rodgers of the world and lock them up. But to lock them up before they have committed a crime requires changing the law to make it easier to place someone in a psychiatric hold, make it easier to actually force anti-psychotic medication on them, and, finally, to actually build those locked state hospitals for the mentally ill that we, the taxpayers, allowed to be shut down from the 1970s to the 1990s. Camarillo State Hospital is now California State University, Channel Islands. Do you want to close that campus, tell the students to get out, and re-open the state mental hospital, which was the last one to actually take children? I mean, does the California State University System really need 26 campuses?

The fact is we have come to a crossroads. The general public is scared of the mentally ill. If they are scared of an 11 year old girl and a 6 year old boy, all the “most mentally ill are not violent” comments in the world will not going to change their minds when all they see of mental illness is its albeit rarest incarnation, the mass killer. They don’t give a shit about my children and they sure as hell don’t give a damn about you adults with mental illness, worrying about keeping your jobs or completing your college degree. When a society can justify the removal of children from their ranks based on projections of their likely future, we have reached the edge of the Final Solution. We have not yet reached the point of the Nazis where we are willing to kill such children, but once the cost of restoring those state hospitals becomes reality, it won’t be long. Death is cheap. Taking care of someone over the course of their apparently unproductive lifespan is not.

For the advocates out there who will keep denying that the severely mentally ill can be violent, you can keep going. I admire your tenacity. I respect it. I get it. You are fighting to “fit in” with the larger society. I used to scoff at the idea that they would come for you to round you up and lock you away. Now I am not so sure.

The concept that previous violence is the best indicator of future violence clearly does not hold true in these cases. The fact that you’ve never been violent, or so you believe, won’t matter. You have a history of being “mentally disturbed.” You try to hide it but honestly this is like an African American painting on white-face: you can’t hide who God made you. You can’t hide how your genes aligned. All that will happen is that you will be silent witness as the mentally ill are wiped from the face of America. That is, until they find out about you. It will happen. Despite your best efforts, you will have an “episode.” College and life are stressful. Stress is lifeblood to psychosis. The fact that you have no gun means nothing. Rodger’s first three victims died of repeated stab wounds. There have been plenty of mass stabbings (I recall one in Houston). Look, I am all for banning handguns. The NRA is irrational. There is no meeting them halfway. Certainly, banning handguns would cause a severe reduction in mass killings, as it has Norway and Australia, both of which took action to do so after mass killings. Banning handguns would help. Rodger is just the latest to buy his guns legally because there was nothing to prevent it. Loughner bought his gun legally. Holmes bought his gun legally. Lanza’s guns were legal.

Banning guns would limit these mass killings to those so “mentally disturbed” that they don’t mind getting up close and personal with their victims, which is what it takes to stab somebody. Rodger believed he would be a “god” and certainly it is easier to “play god” and lay waste to your fellow humans with a gun. It removes you somewhat from what you are doing. You are just pulling the trigger. You are above the death, just the agent of it.

Or maybe not. Rodger did stab three people to death. He clearly had no issue looking his victims in the eye (which is what I assume it takes to stab somebody repeatedly).

No, as advocates, whether you are a person with a mental illness or a loved one of somebody to has one, the time has come for change. Society would prefer you, like my children, never existed. You have no right to exist. Your existence means only suffering for others and, insidiously, for you, and this is the road to elimination. It will start, not with the government. It never does. It will start with vigilante justice. They will start with those on the streets, raving to thin air, ironically the group with least access to guns. If you have a history of mental illness, you are a threat. They believe you are capable of killing their children, just as some believe my children might harm their children.

Are we to hide the symptoms of our illness, just as some Jews hid their religious background?

Or do we take control of the situation while we still can?

[Elliot] Rodger’s family contacted police in the weeks before the rampage because they were concerned about his mental well-being after discovering social media posts about suicide and killing people, attorney Alan Shifman, a family spokesman, told reporters Saturday.

And Rodger wrote about it in posts on his YouTube channel: “I temporarily took all of my Vlog’s (video blogs) down due to the alarm it caused with some people in my family. I will post more updates in the future.”

The man sheriff’s deputies met during the “welfare check” on April 30 was “polite” and “shy,” Brown said.

“He expressed to the deputies he was having troubles with his social life, and that he would probably not be returning to school next year,” Brown said.

There was nothing in his behavior to suggest he was violent, and the deputies “determined he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold,” he said. –CNN

The family asked for a welfare check, concerned by Rodger’s social media posts about suicide and killing people. When police checked on them, Rodger was “polite.”

There was nothing in his behavior to suggest he was violent and the deputies ‘determined he not meet the criteria for an involuntary hold.’

That’s because an involuntary hold of 72 hours requires that the individual be an IMMEDIATE THREAT TO THEMSELVES OR OTHERS IN THIS EXACT MOMENT IN TIME THAT THE ASSESSMENT IS DONE. It doesn’t matter if you were writing posts about killing people five minutes earlier. You are not an IMMEDIATE THREAT. It doesn’t matter that as soon as you leave the ER you will hang yourself in the bedroom, you are not an IMMEDIATE THREAT.

That has to change. I know so many adult advocates cringe at this for fear of being placed on a 72 hour hold but you know psychosis. You know it goes in and out like the tide. You know disordered thinking can be hidden. For those of you who have attempted suicide and survived, you know it was not a sudden decision. The danger is not when you are in the 72 hour hold. It is after, when you are alone with your thoughts.

You also know that adults cannot be forced into inpatient treatment without a judge’s order. Even parents of teens with severe mental illness cannot force medication compliance.

I’ll be honest. I would much rather police take my children in for a 72 hour hold than kill them or taser them. It’s three days of your life. And if you need intensive psychiatric care you get it. And if you didn’t, you only lost three days. Better than losing your life.

So here are my proposals that we must get behind:

1.      We must support Laura’s Law and “Assisted Outpatient Therapy.” We must work to make it easier to enforce med compliance.

2.      The 72 hour psych hold should be changed so that the individual will be admitted for any written statement of suicidal or homicidal ideation in the last six months, in social media or anywhere else. I say “written” because it proves you said it and avoids hearsay. There must be other safeguards to prevent abuse.

3.      The United States should ban handguns, starting with high capacity magazines and high caliber weapons. The ban on “assault style weapons” goes without saying.

4.      A psychiatric examination should be part of every annual physical.

5.      SAMHSA should be eliminated from the HHS and responsibility for mental health services turned over to a new agency that answers to the National Institute of Mental Health.

 

These actions are, of course, massively oversimplified. To accommodate the 72 hour psych holds, we need more inpatient psychiatric beds, and they must be in full medical hospitals. Right now, individuals in questionable mental states are released due to a severe shortage of beds. Yes, society is going to have to pay for more inpatient psychiatric beds. Or they can pay with their lives.

In the end, where these killers were “mentally ill” doesn’t matter. What matters is they needed the strongest intervention.

Whatever you feel about what I wrote, you must acknowledge this. Those amongst us who most needed the help didn’t get it.

And now they are all dead.

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