This was originally published on Liberal America on September 16, 2016.
A mentally ill man in Milwaukee was left to die in solitary confinement after being arrested, the Freethought Project reported. He was crying out for water, and no one came to help him. Terril Thomas, 38, was sent to jail after a shooting incident. He is bipolar and was experiencing a mental breakdown. His family told the police to take him into custody. The police should’ve done their jobs and protected him.
Obviously, he deserved to go to jail, but he deserved justice and treatment. He died in his cell just three days before his competency hearing. The Milwaukee sheriff’s office declined to comment until the investigation is complete. The death was ruled a homicide. Supposedly, he had flooded his cell before, so his water tap was turned off. He should’ve been sent to treatment.
The way we treat mental health patients is appalling. They should not be sent to jail, but that’s where many adults end up because there are not enough beds in many cities.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has a particularly demeaning and dehumanizing way of handling mentally ill people who are in crisis. They use “restraining bags,” which look like body bags made of mesh.
It is absolutely disgusting. The person’s entire head is covered; this would likely traumatize someone who is already experiencing a crisis. The fear and pain involved with a psychiatric crisis is nothing you can imagine. Putting someone in a bag is just appalling.
The man filming the video said:
“This is the craziest s–t I’ve ever seen done to somebody in my whole f–king life. Holy s–t. What do you call that thing?”
“Never in my life have I seen anything like this. What the f–k is wrong with you people? There’s a man in that bag like an animal.”
I came across this horrific picture today:
I've never been so disgusted and angry. When we talk about any other chronic illnesses, we hear about dignity. We all deserve to be treated like human beings. Having a crisis is already scary enough, but this is absolutely traumatizing. We deserve to be treated like human beings.
The New York City Police Department is using these mesh "restraining" bags to deal with sick, mentally ill people. The bags are officially called Emotionally Disturbed Person bag. That's even worse!
"Dignity starts with the recognition that a person with mental illness is just the same as anybody else and is therefore deserving of the same rights. That means you can’t take away a person’s fundamental liberties (or their privacy) simply because they’re acting in a way that’s different than “normal.” Being weird — or mentally ill — is not against the law."
This was originally published on Liberal America on September 11, 2016.
Yesterday (September 10) was World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. For every one suicide, 25 more people attempt it and fail – and by fail we mean they live. We need to work together to get these numbers down.
Suicidal depression is not a pretty designer problem – it is real and it is devastating. Only by facing the issue can we hope to grasp the depth of the problem and begin the process needed to address it. We need to stop thinking “That couldn’t happen to me…”
We need to spread awareness of this epidemic – and yes, it has reached epidemic status. Talking about the problem is a start. There are myths around this issue as well. One big one is the myth that mentioning the word suicide will make someone suicidal. This is just not true. If you want to save someone, ask them directly if they are planning to take their own life.
As a survivor, I can attest to this. Someone close to me committed suicide and someone else close to me attempted it. Talking about it can help prevent more losses. We need to talk about our feelings. Not everyone that commits or attempts suicide has a mental illness, but we are at risk for it. As someone with a mental illness, I have to curb the intrusive thoughts and fight bad ones that emerge on a daily basis. Sometimes you just can’t turn it off; it is like an unwanted white noise in your mind.
By listening to the stories of people, we can grasp a better understanding of the problem and have a better base from which to start working on solutions.
Melody Moezzi“The thing about the mentally ill is [that] I had never been familiar with that community until I was diagnosed and went into the hospital and realized that this is an incredibly vulnerable community that is so silent and is not some tiny minority of people. You’re talking 25% of the population in a given year. 50% of people in their lifetime will have a mental illness. It’s not some tiny minority of people, but they’re so fucking quiet about it, and that was the thing that really pissed me off when I went into the hospital and realized that.”
Anita Estrada“My first suicide attempt — I guess that was in 2005, so I was 24. I attempted suicide again in 2008 which, at that time, was awkward because I was working at a hospital in the ICU, and that was the same ICU where I was treated… The one thing I don’t want to tell anyone I love is that I will never do it again, because I don’t know if I will never do it again. I can’t tell the future. I don’t know if it’s going to get worse, if the medications are going to stop working, if my circumstances will change where I can’t afford medication and therapy.”
This was originally published on Liberal America on September 4, 2016.
Thousands of teens attempt suicide every day. Parents and teachers play an important role in preventing suicides. Many people are uncomfortable with this topic. Don’t close this window. Spreading awareness saves lives. Learn this for your students, children, friends, nieces, nephews, and anyone else. Debunking these myths can save lives.
We need to face this problem head on. Here are six myths that you may have heard about the topic. David Jobes, the head of Catholic University’s Suicide Prevention Lab provided some answers to these myths.
This week (Sept. 5) is the National Suicide Prevention Week. Share this information everywhere.
1. Asking Someone if They Are Suicidal Doesn't Make Them Suicidal.
“There’s already issues and struggles around mental illness within our culture and society. It’s highly stigmatized, and suicide is even more stigmatized. It feels like something that’s just best left unsaid or untouched, kept under the rug, and that’s a problem in terms of saving lives.”
If you are trying to keep someone from taking their life, dancing around the question is not going to help. You need to get direct. Ask them point blank, “Are you thinking about taking your life?”
2. Suicides Are Only Caused By DepressionThis is definitely false. People with other kinds of mental illnesses are at risk for suicide. It’s not just depression. People with schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions also commit suicide.
“On average, about a hundred and some Americans die each day [from suicide]. About 40 to 50 of them might be depressed. Other diagnoses are relevant — like schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, substance abuse, anxiety disorders. It’s not just all about depression.”
3. We Can’t Prevent Suicides.This is absolutely false.
“We know very clearly that, with proper identification, proper support and treatments that are suicide-specific, we absolutely can make a difference and save lives. Most suicidal people who talk about suicide don’t really want to be dead. They’re giving other people lots of indications, lots of warning signs, lots of communications that this is something that they would like to not do, but it requires people identifying that and getting them the proper help.”
It is difficult, but suicides can be prevented. If you think someone you love is in trouble, do everything you can to help them. Support them and love them!
4. Suicide Happens On An Impulse
Some people may hurt themselves on impulse, but people who are really planning suicide put a lot more thought into it. They may be searching for things about it on the internet. They may be talking about death and dying.
Here are some more warning signs on this chart:
5. Young Children (5-12) Can't Be Suicidal
We don’t want to think about it, but young children take their lives as well. Every year in the United States, 30 – 35 children take their lives. This may be a shock. It seems impossible for a child that young to say “I want to kill myself.” This is an area that we don’t know as much about. Most suicide prevention literature starts at the 12-14 age range. The common method for children is running into the street.
6. Having A School Assembly Is A Good Idea
Overreacting is not necessarily the best way to handle the situation. This can cause copycats.
“We really want to have these conversations in smaller groups, especially among those kids who were most affected by the suicide. So, just a wholesale didactic event is not necessarily in the school’s best interest. And not necessarily the best way to prevent copycat suicides or additional suicides.”
Most mental illnesses begin in the late teens to early 20s. Unfortunately, this often coincides with college. The onset of symptoms can really interfere with coursework. Many colleges have started employing counselors at schools.
Adolescence is difficult. We are navigating school and dating and making friends. Going to college can be stressful on anyone.
Time magazine reported:
"Though mental illness may not be at the forefront of parents’ and students’ minds when they go off to college, young adulthood is a critical period for mental health. Seventy five percent of mental illnesses are onset by age 24 and 43.8 million adults, about one in five, experienced a mental illness in 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And yet the experiences students and parents have in dealing with mental illness can vary greatly from campus to campus, making it important for people to gain knowledge about what to expect, and what to look out for, imperative."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released a guidebook for students and parents that will hopefully help. It is still a taboo among many people, and it really shouldn't be. You can download it here.
For parents and friends, here are a few symptoms to look for:
1. Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
2. Severe, out-of-control risk-taking behaviors
3. Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason
4. Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight
5. Seeing, hearing or believing things that are not real
6. Repeatedly and excessively using drugs or alcohol
7. Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or sleeping habits
8. Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still
9. Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
10. Trying to harm oneself or planning to do so
College is hard, and we need to provide students with the care they need.
A group of users on Reddit were asked about mental health stigma. These are some of the false beliefs that people still have about mental health.
1. It's a choice.
This is total bullshit. A lot of people will tell you to just "buck up" or "cheer up." Some people think that you just need to buck up or get stronger to feel better. They think that we can just magically turn our happy switches on. I seem to be missing that switch.
Some of the comments said:
2. They can't see it, so you're fine.
This is a common problem with many diseases. Mental illnesses or fibromyalgia or other "invisible" illnesses.
Here are some comments:
3. Medication Myths
Many people assume that the medicines will automatically "cure" the mental illness. Either that or they say they "don't believe" in them.
4. You Have To Have A Reason To Be Depressed Or Anxious
This one really gets to me. Some people will say "Oh, you have a great life. Why are you depressed?" or "You don't have anything to be anxious about." This is bullshit; the fact that these feelings are happening for no reason is why they call it a disorder.