The May 19, 2016 article in the Detroit Free Press regarding the recent suicide of sixteen year old Ian Hartley is both heartbreaking and anger-provoking. This is a clear case of a young man and his parents screaming for help and support, yet being turned away and sent home. The result…the tragic suicide at the hands of a broken mental health system.
Ian had told his parents that he planned to kill himself and how he planned to do it. He also shared this, parents at his side, with staff at Community Mental Health and a doctor at a local emergency room the very night before he killed himself. This young man had even been talked off an overpass by his girlfriend one month earlier, the very same overpass from which he took his life.
What more evidence was needed to prove that this was a crisis situation? As his mother points out in the article, would he have been turned away had he had a broken bone or if he was having a heart attack?
Kevin Fischer, the executive director of NAMI Michigan, stated in the article, “Many emergency rooms are not comfortable addressing people with mental illness, even though they’re supposed to be,” Fischer said. “It’s not uncommon for them to be turned away.” Perhaps this is another piece of our system that needs close examination. Why would suicidal people be turned away from any medical facility? Fischer also believes that, in addition to funding, “…the stigma surrounding mental health issues is an even bigger roadblock for families seeking access to treatment and care.”
Mental health needs to start being taken more seriously by our politicians who can make changes in policy and in our medical system that can impact mental health services. A death by suicide every 13 minutes in the US and 26 attempts in that same thirteen minutes is WAY too many. Something needs to be done!
As with all of my blog entries, comments are welcomed and encouraged!