Chapter 2: Living Florida's mental health nightmare – Florida Times-Union
Just before Hurricane Matthew hit, our family experienced our own personal storm. Our 30-year-old son suffered the worst manic-psychotic episode my wife and I have ever witnessed.
When a 300-pound young man takes on his father, a 165-pound 70-year-old, the results cannot be pretty. They weren’t. I ended up with a few bruises for trying to restrain my son, but I fared better than my wife, Kathy. An accident resulting from the melee sent her to the emergency room. Though this was a frightening experience for all of us, we do not blame our son. Through no fault of his own, he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
As we were about to talk to the Sheriff’s Department about our options and considering Baker-Acting, or committing our son to the hospital, the deputies received another call about a man out of control, screaming at imaginary people and destroying his house. It took four officers to subdue this man. Thankfully, the Sheriff’s Department trains its deputies how to respond to calls concerning the mentally ill, and the fact that my son was not hurt is a testimonial to the professionalism and courage of the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department. In a letter to Sheriff Shoar, I wrote, “May God Bless these fine young men and women who put their lives on the line daily to protect us.” Unfortunately, these deputies are routinely called to help families whose children erupt in violence due to their untreated mental illnesses.
Months before my son exploded in his manic episode, The Florida Times-Union ran two editorials on Sunday, July 26, about my family’s journey through Florida’s mental health nightmare. Frank Denton wrote a column about us [see the column at tinyurl.com/hmd9o42] to prove that a mental health crisis could happen to any family, and we wrote how