To: W. X. Sickbe, M.D. Aug 2, 2015
Psychiatric Health Center
From: A B C D …V: Your dead patient’s family.
Re Y Z… Your former patient.
Consider the following, from the your facility mission statement:
” We’re committed to you – your health, wellness and providing the best care possible for you and your loved ones.” (italics mine).
If that is true, why not be more interested and willing to hear those who have known your patient longest? Isn’t it possible to listen without breaking any ethical or legislative rules of practice?
Of course Y’s case was complex. It went back to adolescence; and farther: It included a very strong multi-generational history of paranoid psychosis, and violent death including homicide; there was abuse, and an ill-advised surgical injury to her temporal lobe. Perhaps she denied or failed to tell of her recurring psychotic episodes, usually associated with the use of prescription drugs you prescribed, especially cocaine analogues like Ritalin. She left reams of hand written notes, often about suicide. Over many years she made multiple attempts; at least two very nearly succeeded.
But you chose, in professional hauteur, only to hear from your your patient. And the Court? Despite testimony from family, the court could not impose long-term involuntary treatment without firm support from her psychiatrist; from you, who relied on your own isolated and (catastrophically bad) judgment.
Considering the care available to her– or imposed on her and her family– in which you were a long time professional prime mover, perhaps– ultimately– her suicide became quite rational. What else?
The last time you declared her not a danger to herself or to others was just before she took a gun and discharged it into her head.
We hope you will seriously reflect on Y’s case and on similar cases seen everywhere on our streets, in our homes, in our jails and in the so-called ‘senseless’ killings associated with mental illness. None are senseless. What is senseless is the way we fail to rationally diagnose and care for the mentally ill. I hope you will try to end the insane and cruel sort mental health care that is inflicted on mentally ill people in our country, on their families, and on the public; or at least avoid contributing to it further yourself.