A teacher from Lamar High School in Houston testified about his son’s death from paranoid schizophrenia at age 31. He started by saying that his son did well in school and made it to college on a full scholarship and was on the track team. His son married and had two children; by 23, psychiatrists diagnosed him with paranoid schizophrenia. He believed that the government and/or aliens were out to get him, and the voices in his head were so loud he could not sleep without sedation. The following is my transcript from memory about the shocking state of Texas mental health (48th out of 50 in mental health funding):
“How was I to know that in Houston, the medical capital of the United States, there were only two psychiatric facilities that were barely making it? How was I to know that the the Harris County Jail treats more people than the entire state mental hospital system? How was I to know that there are no long term facilities for mental health? How was I to know that insurance in Texas discriminates against mental health? How was I to know that it would be impossible to put him in a state hospital? And I had insurance and a good job. If this were an elderly person with Alzheimer’s, we wouldn’t be letting them sleep under bridges and laugh and call the lazy. This is immoral.
As the psychoses got worse, his son started to get into trouble with the law. First, he broke down the door of his girlfriend’s apartment at 2AM to save her from aliens. Then he jumped into someone’s car which was similar to his dad’s, accusing the owner of stealing his father’s car. At this arrest, his father was asked to bail his son out. After thinking and discussing it, he left his son in jail because he knew he could get better mental health treatment in jail since long-term (6-12 months) treatment was the only thing that would work on him. And it was impossible to get it outside of jail. “Imagine having to speak to your son between glass, through a phone, wearing an orange jumpsuit… I hope you never have to bury your son, and I think our curent system is cruel and immoral to the mentally ill.”