It was so sad to see a mom on the front page of The Guardian talking about how people are dying from mental health and addictions issues. Her son is missing and she assumes that he is dead. I admire her courage to speak out on this important topic at such a difficult time for her family.
There are so many of us who live in constant fear of that happening to our own children who are battling mental health and/or addiction. This dear mother is living our nightmare and my heart goes out to her.
We certainly thought we were going to lose our son on more than one occasion. One such time was when he had been waiting for over 4 weeks to get into detox. The wait was getting harder by the day. He didn’t know how much more he could take. We were worried. We’d never seen him so down. Our conversation went something like this.
Son: I am so tired of living like this. I can’t do it anymore.
Me: Dear, you have to get help.
Son: I tried, mom. I’ve been waiting to get into detox for over 4 weeks. Besides, all I ever get offered for help is detox for 7 days and that is not enough.
Me: You can’t give up. You have to insist that you be offered something right after detox.
Son: They won’t listen. I am on the waiting list for Methadone but that takes a couple of years.
Me: Maybe you will luck out and get right into Talbot House after detox.
Son: I doubt it. I am just so sick of it all.
Me: Your life is worth fighting for dear. We love you and want you to get better but you have to take the steps and ask for the help.
Son: I did ask for help. I applied for Homewood but was turned down by that committee at Mount Herbert. I feel that there is nothing for me. I will never get out of this.
Me: You will get out of this. You need to go to the hospital if you are feeling suicidal. They can help.
Son: I went there last night and they sent me home because I use drugs. I am tired, mom. I can’t do it anymore. I just want to end it.
Me: Come with me to the hospital. You need to see someone.
Son: I am not going back there. I already tried. You don’t need to do anything for me because I’ll be dead by the end of the day. I love you guys but I can’t do it anymore.
Me: You cannot give up. We love you. Your life is worth fighting for. If I go with you, you’ll have a better chance of getting help.
Son: No one wants to help me so I don’t care anymore.
At this point, our son left the house. We had to call the police who took him to the hospital where he was put on suicide watch for the night. He was let out the next day.
Mike and I went to Mount Herbert to find out how much longer he’d have to wait to get into detox. We explained that he is suicidal because he’s been waiting so long and feeling desperate. He needed help badly. He also needed some hope that his call for detox would come soon. We were told that they can’t take him if he is suicidal. I said, “Well, the hospital can’t take him because he is using drugs so where does that leave him?”
There are some very serious gaps in the system, especially when Mental Health and Addictions are not working together. I bet the young man who is now missing experienced this when he sought help, just like so many others have. It is my hope that our new Chief Mental Health and Addictions Officer, Dr. Rhonda Matters, will immediately address these silos so that people will get the right help at the right time. Let’s make sure that this young man’s suffering was not in vain. The time for change is now.
This post is not intended to point fingers at the good folks working in these areas. We do the best we can with what we’ve been given to work with. Rather, it is an attempt to demonstrate where the gaps exist so that real solutions can be found.