Helping a loved one who is experiencing a severe mental illness, especially someone who may not realize they are sick, is one of the greatest gifts you can give. For some, it may mean the difference between life and tragedy. ~ Treatment Advocacy Center
(Sept. 11, 2015) Cindy Thomas visited practically every court, hospital, mental health center, and police station in Baltimore, Maryland while fighting to get treatment for her two sons with severe mental illness.
But help was hard to come by, and the battle was ultimately lost when Thomas’ eldest son, Jordan McBride, ended his own life at just 30 years old (“Confronting barriers to suicide prevention,” Baltimore Sun, Sept. 9).
McBride developed severe depression with psychosis in his late teens and early 20s. Over the course of his illness, his behavior became increasingly erratic and he attempted suicide several times.
"Despite many hospitalizations and trials of medications, the depression was always there," Thomas said. "He felt hopeless and that he would never get any better. There were brief times of happiness, but they were fleeting and would not last."
Thomas tried her best to help her son, but encountered obstacles at every turn.
"My biggest one was getting my kids admitted to the hospital and keeping them there long enough until they were stable to come home," she said.
Cost was another issue. At times, Thomas had to pay out of pocket for her son’s outpatient therapy.
Thomas said her health insurance company regularly denied her claims her son’s medical bills, once refusing to pay a bill because it listed "self-harm" as the reason for Jordan's hospitalization.
Sadly, in February 2013 McBride successfully committed suicide.
"It was the thing I feared for so many years, and it finally happened," Thomas said.
In 2013, 569 people died of suicide in the state of Maryland. It is the 11th leading cause of death overall in the state.
In order to ensure that Maryland residents with severe mental illness and their families do not fall victim to suicide and other preventable tragedies, the state must:
Pass AOT in Maryland,
Restore a sufficient number of beds to create access to inpatient care for qualifying individuals in crisis, and
Make active use of the state’s civil commitment laws to provide more timely treatment to individuals in psychiatric crisis and reduce the consequences of non-treatment on them, their families and their communities.