How the Mental Health System Failed My Brother Who Lived With Schizophrenia

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

The mental health system failed Mickey terribly. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his teenage years. He was off and on medications, some that would help, and some that would make things terribly worse. One month before Mickey took his life, we had a conversation with my sister about what was going on in his mind. At that point my sister called the mental health clinic where he was getting his medication and told them the medicine they had switched him to about six months prior to this was making everything worse for him. It wasn’t helping. This was their response: “I’m sorry, there is nothing we can do right now. We have an opening in six weeks to get him in and get his medication switched back.” I could see the disappointment on Mickey’s face.

The next three weeks went by. Mickey had moved into a new house. He had a place to put his dog that he loved so much, and even got a new dog. It seemed as though everything would be OK.

October 9, 2013, the day Mickey left this world, started off great. The four of us (my sister, Mickey, my husband and I) decided to take a trip to the lake. We wanted to go looking for arrowheads. We spent about four hours walking the shoreline looking and talking and enjoying each other’s company. We went home and my sister started dinner. I sat on the floor listening to music on my computer. Mickey decided to go walk his dogs. My husband asked, “Mickey you OK, man?” I remember Mickey looking him square in the eye and saying, “Yeah, I’m OK.”

But still, my husband followed him outside to make sure he was OK. He searched the yard and the entire field behind the house. My sister also went out to look, and met with my husband under a tree about 70 feet from the front door. He decided to come back in and and told me, “I looked everywhere, he must be out walking his dog still.” As soon as those words came out of his mouth, we both heard my sister scream. The kind of scream that shakes your soul. They told me he was gone.

Mickey was an amazing guy; an amazing father. A dedicated husband. A give-you-his-last-$5 kind of person. A stand up kind of man who would walk to work every day and never complain. He was my brother.

The hole I have inside me since Mickey has been gone has been almost unbearable. It’s a kind of pain that doesn’t go away. I wish I could say the pain fades, but it doesn’t. I wish I could wish him back, but I cant. But what I can do is raise awareness. I can talk about suicide and let others know that they have other options. That there is help and that they are not alone. I don’t want people to feel that suicide is their only option.

I wish I could have known then what I know now about suicide. In reality, going back in time is impossible. But to anyone who has lost someone to suicide, know that you are not alone. Sadly, there are many more of us who understand the pain you are going through. To anyone considering suicide, please know you are loved, you are valuable, you are worth more than your darkness. Reach out and get the support you need and deserve. You matter.

Follow this journey on Imbalance Ink.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Getty image via RuneMyreng

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