Working with the Criminally Insane

Insane Flickr

“She told them, ‘I can’t go home because I want to kill myself.” They sent her home anyway.

Mike worked at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo for over twenty years. He worked as a nurse in many of the wards, including maximum security. Maximum security had some of the sickest patients that were in need of the most intense care. Often times their crimes were gruesome and destroyed entire families forever. However in many cases those that committed these crimes either exhibited clear symptoms of danger before the crime or frankly told those around them they were going to do something awful in very plain language. In most of these cases either those around them didn’t say anything from the stigma of mental illness or much worse the insurance companies ended care, releasing the patient without access to help.

The states are overwhelmed with patients and often times act as an agency that only steps in after a crime has been committed.  There is the gap. There is one failure of many in our health care system. A sick patient has reached the end of coverage for whatever reason and is left with no access options, and treatment only begins again after a crime is committed, when law enforcement is forced to step in. In a time when health care coverage and mass murder are red hot topics understanding this gap is critical if we want to create a safer environment.

Psych Ward

The earlier quote was from a real life situation. The patient was a high school teacher with a history of mental illness in her family. Her husband was also a professional.

“She had trouble with her first child and was very depressed. She had a doctor. A couple of years later she had a son and became very suicidal. Well, they put her in the hospital, gave her medication, sent her home because her insurance ran out. She went home with a bottle of Haldol and her husband went to work because he didn’t understand how sick she was. She drank half the bottle herself and gave the other half of the bottle to her two babies, killing them both. “ 

She survived and so did her marriage. She eventually got out of the institute. For some patients their journey will never end.

“Another patient (schizophrenic) lived with his mother, in the basement. She retired and couldn’t afford his meds. She couldn’t find his meds. He ended up shooting her and the dog. When the cops got there he was talking about shooting demons. He’s on his meds now. He’s fine, but just got real sick. He mostly stays in his room and hides out, like at home.”

This kind of gap in treatment exists in most states. Whether we are talking about laws that constrict access to information and care, or insurance companies that drop coverage knowing that an incident is likely, the system is letting down these patients and is making our society as a whole more dangerous. One Idea would be to have, at the federal level, insurance companies financially responsible for any actions a psych patient might commit after a period of time after coverage is dropped. Giving survivors better laws to pursue civil litigation against insurance companies might provide enough financial pressure to rebalance those risk assessment spreadsheets.  Like it or not constriction to money is the only leverage that any large corporation understands.

Salvadore Ritchie
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Salvadore Ritchie

Occult Enthusiast, True Crime Aficionado, Movie Philosopher. I keep secrets. I do YouTube Videos.
Salvadore Ritchie
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