Recent mental health first aid helps with family member

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By Belen Ward

I went to a Mental Health First Aid to cover a story about suicide in March at the Platte Valley Medical Center, it was provided by the Community Reach Center.  It was designed to help people recognize symptoms of suicide.

It was a course that helped me save my nephew.

He is 25 and went to the emergency room a few weeks ago from a bad reaction and an addiction to meth. He was up for three days with no sleep and was hearing voices. His family had no idea of his addiction to this drug for months. Once he was released, he was given some information to seek a doctor to diagnose his psychosis and to get him on a treatment plan to fight the drug addiction.

His parents moved him back home to help with the recovery. A week went by, and he neglected to make an appointment. He was still hearing voices, and I noticed his behavior changed. He was constantly irritated and mean with his parents. I’m sure it was part of the withdrawal. I kept telling his mother to be proactive and just take him in, that he wasn’t going to do it.

Another week went by with no treatment. Then he came home from work and told his father, “I’m calling the suicide hotline, I want to kill myself.” His parent didn’t know what to do.

When I attended that mental health course, I walked away with information to get help for someone who is having thoughts of suicide. I gave his parents the information to the Colorado Crisis Services. It’s a 24/7 mental-health service with walk-in clinics throughout Colorado, and it’s free.

His parents took him to the walk-in clinic, and he was admitted immediately into the hospital facility that is housed in the same building. He was required to stay there for up to five days to get diagnosed and treatment. We found out that he was contemplating two ways to commit suicide. He purchased a gun and had a rope in his dad’s shed, ready to hang himself.

It was heartbreaking for all of us to hear that, and we cried.

Once he’s released, the doctor will put him on a treatment schedule. I’m so glad that I attended this course, learned about symptoms, behaviors and a place to take them to be safe. I hope going forward he gets better and there is help.