Saturday, October 5, 2013
Take care of your mentally ill brothers and sisters because our mental health system is failing.
Miriam Carey (34) is dead today. Police in Washington, D.C. killed her on Thursday outside the Capitol Building after she refused to stop her vehicle and surrender to their authority. They shot her multiple times after chasing her down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House where she had crashed her vehicle into a barrier at the entrance to the driveway in an apparent effort to enter the White House without permission. She was an unarmed dental hygenist and her 1-year-old baby was strapped into a child safety seat in the back seat of her vehicle.
Aaron Alexis (28) is dead today. Police in Washington, D.C. killed him in a building at the Washington Navy Yard when he refused to surrender to their authority after shooting and killing 12 people in the building with a sawed-off shotgun. He was a government contractor who passed through security to get into the building.
Ms. Carey and Mr. Alexis were mentally ill and delusional when they died. Both sought mental health treatment and were untreated before they were killed.
may have been suffering from schizophrenia and experiencing paranoid delusions on Monday [the day of the shootings].
In Rhode Island [six weeks before the shootings], Alexis told the officers he had gotten in an argument while boarding a flight in Virginia, and he believed the person he argued with sent three people to follow him. He said he never saw the people but believed they were using a microwave machine to send vibrations into his body so he could not fall asleep. He said he checked into two hotels previously, one on the Navy base, and could not get away from them.
He would not tell officers what the voices were saying. But he also told them he did not have a history of mental illness in his family and had never had any similar episodes, the report said.
‘‘He was concerned for his own safety,’’ Newport Police Lt. William Fitzgerald said Tuesday.
Later that day, Newport police alerted police at the naval station and sent them a copy of the police report because Alexis said he was a contractor, Fitzgerald said.
‘‘What he was claiming didn’t sound right,’’ he said.
Five days before the shootings, he traveled to Washington, D.C. on another business trip. Over the course of the next five days he changed hotels twice and visited two hospital emergency rooms seeking medication to help him sleep. He also purchased the sawed-off shotgun that he used to kill the 12 people at the Navy Yard. The purchase was lawful.
CBS News is reporting today that police in Stamford, Connecticut took Ms. Carey to a hospital for a mental health evaluation after she,
told police in December that she was a prophet, that President Obama would place the city of Stamford under a “lockdown” and that he had her and her residence under electronic surveillance.
On September 29th before the incident that ended with Ms. Carey’s death, CBS 60 Minutes reported:
The mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard two weeks ago that resulted in the deaths of 13 people, including the gunman, was the 23rd such incident in the past seven years. It’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the fact that the majority of the people pulling the triggers have turned out to be severely mentally ill — not in control of their faculties — and not receiving treatment.
In the words of one of the country’s top psychiatrists, these were preventable tragedies, symptoms of a failed mental health system that’s prohibited from intervening until a judge determines that someone presents an “imminent danger to themself or others.” The consequence is a society that’s neglected millions of seriously ill people hidden in plain sight on the streets of our cities, or locked away in our prisons and jails.
In the fall of 2003, Crane and I received an odd telephone call from a student we knew at Seattle University. The call seemed odd because he claimed loud voices in the walls of his apartment had prevented him from sleeping for several days. We decided to pay him a visit.
He admitted us to his apartment after we convinced him that we were not two impostors attempting to trick him into opening the door.
We spent about an hour checking his apartment and the rest of the building, which contained four apartments above an underground parking lot. We did not hear any voices or see anything out of order.
Because he remained uncharacteristically anxious and fearful, we invited him to come and stay with us for a few days. Fortunately, he accepted our invitation.
This incident kicked-off a bizarre month in which Crane and I took him to see mental health professionals and alternated sleeping during the night so that one of us would always be awake. The diagnosis was always the same: Rapid Repeating Bipolar Disorder with Paranoid Delusions. He disagreed with the diagnoses because the delusions were so real to him that he could not distinguish them from ordinary reality and the anti-psychotic medication dulled his senses.
We finally persuaded him to voluntarily enter a secure mental health treatment hospital after a couple of property destruction incidents in our home and a threat to kill us in our sleep.
There is no known cure for this condition, but the delusions can be smoothed out and managed with appropriate anti-psychotic medication. Fortunately for our friend, his parents can afford to pay for his health care and medication.
Had his financial circumstances been otherwise, he would be homeless, in jail or dead.
Mr. Alexis’s story is worse than any horror movie could be because it is real and the tragic result was so preventable.
Take care of your brothers and sisters when they are sick, because if you don’t, no one else will.
Please create a quiet moment in your life today and light a candle in your heart for Miriam Carey and Aaron Alexis.
What happened to them could happen to you or to someone you know.
Producing articles and maintaining this blog requires substantial time and effort. Please take a moment and consider making a donation.
As you depend on us, we depend on you.
Situation is desperate.
We need your help!
Fred and Crane