Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 20, 2014

Time for a change in mental health services

Mar 21, 2014

By TRISHA PHELPS

Mt. Pleasant News

One of the perks of my job is getting to listen to the police scanner all day. Some things over the scanner and hearing some of the unusual things going on in the area can be quite entertaining, other things can be pretty disturbing.

Certain things coming across the scanner make me giggle (such as a guy saying “YO!” every time he comes on.) and other things make me upset, such as car crashes hearing about suicide attempts.

This column is not going to be about suicide, but rather something that was said over the scanner regarding a suicide attempt that I found even more disturbing than the act itself.

Over the scanner a while back emergency personnel were asking the dispatcher if this was the same person that had made an attempt earlier that week.

I wish I was kidding, although this would be a horrible subject to joke about.

What does that say about the state of mental health assistance if a person attempts to do any form of self-harm, law enforcement/emergency personnel know about it and nothing happens to ensure that the person is no longer a risk to themselves or others?

Isn’t that one of the first things that should be focused on, the safety of the person and others?

And if a person’s intent is well enough known to emergency personnel that they are a danger to themselves, why would it take multiple attempts of taking their life to get them any help?

Now, I cannot say that I have first-hand knowledge of how hard/easy it is to get a person committed to a mental health institution. I can, however, say that friends of mine have had difficulty getting their loved ones the help they need. I can also say that I know it didn’t used to be this difficult to get someone help.

Long before I was ever a part of the picture, a member of my family needed some help. Their spouse recognized that something wasn’t right, took them to a doctor , got them committed and got them the help they needed to come home and be perfectly fine again. This person went on to write a book about the experience and inspire my love for writing.

If this person didn’t get the help that was needed, my life would be completely different. I may not even have been born.

If this episode would have happened now, I honestly think that the entire course of my family would have been changed, all because help that was needed wasn’t readily available.

How many other families have been affected because it was just too hard to get someone help? My guess is far too many. One is too many.

Something certainly needs to be done to fix this.

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