Friday, February 22, 2008


In an article in the Raleigh, NC News & Observer dated February 17th we find this statement. “We don't have a system that recognizes or identifies a crisis at a stage where we can give them services until it becomes a problem," said Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, a Democrat from Carrboro on state legislative judicial committees. "We've got to change the whole thing.”
The root meaning of system is a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole. As the commercial asked years ago “where is the beef?” we can ask today “Where is the mental health system?”.
The above quote is from an article telling about the death of a young woman in one of our prisons here in North Carolina. Speaking of her the article says, “ The mental health diagnoses were long and complicated. Bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, cocaine abuse and borderline and antisocial personality traits. “
It also says, “Officials with the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women say Bouleris wrapped a sheet around her neck and hanged herself from her prison bed, leaving a family wracked with grief, guilt and haunting questions.”
It is not unusual to get a number of different psychiatric labels if you come in contact with the system or non-system over a number of years. That is my own experience. I have gone from paranoid schizophrenia to bipolar disorder since 1964 until now and I am leaving out a number of others simply because I can’t remember them. One point it makes is that making a psychiatric diagnosis is not a science.
However, the death of this young lady makes a far greater point. The lack of a system in this state and certainly an apparent lack of forensic services. This brings me to a point I have made before. We needed someone in charge with experience. We are people not natural resources.
In the same article we read, “Kidder [the mother] has heard from friends and relatives of inmates still behind bars, prisoners too fearful of retribution to risk corresponding on their own. They have relayed that Bouleris was very open about her suicide plans. They say the guards did not check on her at the 6 a.m. shift change on Jan. 26, the day she was found dead at 8:30 a.m.
"This just totally changed the grieving process," Kidder said. "Now I'm angry."
Why, Kidder wonders, were the suicide threats not taken more seriously?
"If she's telling people she's suicidal, you just can't ignore this," Kidder said. "Even if she cried 'wolf' 100 times, guess what -- it's time 101, you still listen."
Keith Acree, a spokesman for the state Department of Correction, said the State Bureau of Investigation was looking into the incident, standard procedure.
The autopsy report was not complete last week, according to Chief Medical Examiner John Butts, but his office is investigating the death as an apparent suicide.
State prison officials, too, are examining their actions, Acree said, but their findings will become part of Bouleris' inmate files and not available for public scrutiny.”
Consumers and family members can no longer tolerate this non-system that shatters souls and leaves broken brains feeling helpless. What System I ask?
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