Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Failure

Last night I heard the sad story of another failure by our mental health system. I met with the parents of a young man who committed suicide. He was adopted. The big differences between Daughter and this young man were IQ (his was very high) and the fact that he had had access to drugs, and had become addicted. His parents kept things locked up for his safety. He died after successfully cracking open the safe in which they stored their pain medications.

As we talked last night it was such a familiar story: Admissions to psych units followed by discharges by psychiatrists claiming that the only problem was the parents. Threats and violence in the home, and a wonderful, cooperative individual in public. Parents who researched and searched for answers and help for their son. A master manipulator who pitted his parents against each other. Parents who were afraid to leave him home alone, not sure he would be safe. Professionals who didn't cooperate in their treatment of the young man, and worked at cross purposes. Laws that said since he was over 18, he was an adult and his parents had no rights, even though he lived in their home and they provided for all his needs, including the insurance that paid for his mental health treatment. Judgment from those who think they caused their son's problems. Disputes over diagnoses: Bipolar? Borderline?

I could go on, but I won't. The details aren't important. I'll just say there were multiple mistakes made by people in the system. There were multiple missed opportunities. There are multiple possibilities for lawsuits. There won't be any lawsuits, though. The parents are exhausted. The truly sad part: on some level, they're relieved. Their living hell has ended. They have been grieving for years. In spite of all he put them through, they were devoted to him and never stopped loving him or seeking help for him. Last night they were so grateful-- because I understood. I have walked down a similar path. The only difference: I don't know where my journey will end. I hope mine has a different outcome, but there are no guarantees.

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