Tragedies Spark Talk, But More Awareness Needed

By Anonymous … The January shooting in a Florida airport by an individual who had schizophrenia brought to mind the many other tragedies that have happened because of individuals with mental illness. And such tragedies do create a certain level of national awareness.

But not all the tragedies make the evening news. Indeed, such events happen every day in the lives of people who deal with loved ones with mental illness. Every day. The awareness needs to grow constantly.

I feel such frustration in hearing the same things over and over. Repeatedly, we hear about what could have been done to prevent the event. Why didn’t someone do more? The young man in Florida even asked for help! Yet these tragedies keep happening, and people just keep talking. Time goes by, life goes on, and it happens again. Nothing changes.

Awareness might reduce frustration

With May as Mental Health Awareness Month, conversation that might lead to change is important.

As a parent who lost a son with schizophrenia, I understand this frustration of trying to get help for the person for whom you care but only hitting brick walls. The times he needed help, I took him to the hospital or had him committed, only to see him released in three days. Three days doesn’t provide enough time for proper treatment of this condition.

Having the person with an illness committed requires a court order and poses a difficult process. I had to state that he was a danger to himself to have him committed. Federal law prevents you from getting information from the nurses or doctors unless the patient gives permission. Many times our son would not give us permission. In his beautiful yet confused mind, he didn’t believe he had an illness. Limiting the information we could receive provided him one thing he could control.

Support systems need to increase awareness

We started the process of guardianship toward the end of my son’s life, at his age of 44, after dealing with this illness for over 20 years. I grew so concerned at one point that I finally talked to a gentleman on a crisis hotline; I didn’t know what to do anymore to help my son. He told me we could have him committed to a facility that would give him the structure and support he would need. He assured me this had been done before, even though my son might not like it.

My husband and I found a lawyer to start the process of guardianship. We had paperwork from 20 years to support our case. But his doctor didn’t support us. We needed the doctor to have a better level of awareness. We were doing this to try to save our son’s life. Another brick wall and total frustration.

I tell this story to voice my concerns and the frustration of the majority of the people that I see in the news and the people in my life. It shouldn’t happen this way. Something needs to change. Do all these tragedies have to happen first?

All we seem to do is just keep talking and talking.