Posted 10:39 PM 12/20/2012 : Local family fears tragedy if bipolar son doesn't get help
After the deadly shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Governor Hickenlooper is trying to make sure history doesn't repeat itself here in Colorado. Tuesday he proposed more than $18 million in spending to revamp mental health services. It's a change one local family desperately wants to see; they've been struggling to get help for their bipolar son but since he's an adult they cant get him committed without his consent.
They don't want to call their son the 'next Adam Lanza' but they say what scares them is they just don't know. They can't get him treatment without his permission and he's turning into somebody they don't recognize. After the Connecticut shooting they don't want to take any chances but they say the law isn't protecting them, this community, or their 23-year-old bipolar son. They've asked not to be identified on camera and for their voices to be changed for their protection.
"Blow my f***ing head off! That's what I want, so f***ing shoot me!" their son can be heard screaming in a cell phone video his mother took earlier this week around 5:00 AM.
The massacre in Connecticut struck fear in hearts across the nation and right here in Colorado Springs. "Do you worry that if this doesn't get resolved, I don't want to say that he could be the next, but does that thought cross your mind?" News 5's Jacqui Heinrich asked this mom in an exclusive interview. "It does because as I'm getting more information and more knowledge about it, it absolutely crosses my mind," she said.
This family's heartbreak: the law prevents them from getting help for their mentally ill son without his consent, and he's not giving it. The boys father told News 5, "If that woman in Connecticut who is dead now had wanted to get help for her 20-year-old son and he had refused, there's nothing she could have done. It's up to him, hes an adult, he's over 18, all bets are off."
They say they may be living the same nightmare as Nancy Lanza before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The father said in a tearful interview, "They're actually allowing the people who have mental illness to make decisions about whether they need help or not. How crazy is that? That's as crazy as they are."
His mother says they've sought help from several agencies to no avail. "He has this way with doctors, police officers, hospitals. He talks to you very normal, coherent, says exactly what you want to hear," she said.
But behind closed doors, his mom's been writing down his ramblings. She read aloud his stream-of-consciousness from a notepad: "I'm going to heaven. Let's have fun. Now that'll put fear into somebody's eye. We're going to heaven, baby. Nobody's going down. Shoot me. That'll be the end of your world. HA!"
With no way to treat their son's disorder, they're stuck in limbo, following doctor's orders. "I was looked straight in the face multiple times and told 'put a deadbolt on your door'," his mother told Heinrich. "All the knives are gone, we don't have guns in the house. Would I ever think in a zillion years that boy would ever harm anyone before this happened? Never never never. Could it happen now? Maybe. I have no idea. You look into his eyes and it's not him," she said crying.
This family wants laws to be revised so admittance to an inpatient facility has a lower threshold and caretakers have a greater say. They believe these things should be determined on a case by case basis because a one-size-fits-all law leaves gaps that could potentially result in lost lives.