Yesterday, a 14 year old girl went to her high school near where I live and stabbed 6 people with two knives. Three teachers were also injured. She had written on social media that she was going to do it. You can read about it here. Luckily, none of the injuries are life threatening. She is a young offender and will not have a criminal record. In some ways I’m happy she will finally get the help she needs.
Her family has been trying to get her psychiatric care for a few years. They’ve called 911, admitted her to the hospital, talked to doctors and nurses but each time the hospital has sent her home. You might be surprised to hear this. I’m not. I’ve lived through the same health care system. Justine and I spent many, many hours in hospital emergency waiting rooms, only to be sent home.
Justine was a danger to herself but not to others. This girl was aggressive to other people as well as herself. When her family went for treatment, they just got sent home. Her parents, like us, lived on egg shells just waiting for the next crisis. Back up to the hospital we’d go, several hours later we’d be home, having received yet another piece of paper with a new prescription.
Prescriptions have varying results. They take weeks to kick in so while you hope they will provide relief, the patient is still very much at risk. It’s difficult for the patient to assess if they help. We would notice Justine was calmer and not as volatile, but she didn’t feel better. The side effects can be nasty too. She’d do her best to stay on the current one but eventually she’d stop taking it. In order to try another one, she’d have to have the medication completely out of her system before starting a new one and that would be frightening. She’d get a new one and the cycle continued. One day she announced she wasn’t going to take any medication anymore. She said they made her feel “not like herself”. That make me so terribly sad. The only treatment she received, robbed her of herself.
Living with mental illness is a roller coaster ride. Trying to navigate the medical system is extremely frustrating. This family knew this girl was a ticking time bomb but they got no help from the system. When will these kids get the treatment they deserve? Things must change!