After Her Son Is Charged With First-Degree Murder, Mom Shares Heartbreaking Post About His Mental Health
See this pic? This is my son, Mikese. You will see other pics of him but this is the one I want you to remember. This is…
Mikese experienced his first psychotic episode the summer after his freshman year away at college. When he started taking medication it helped keep the psychosis at bay, but because the medication gave him vivid nightmares — and because he was independent and doing well, his mom said — he decided to stop. From then on, he never stuck to a medication regimen.
Although he still struggled on and off, he managed to graduate from college and was an accomplished track and field athlete. More recently, at the age of 30, Mikese was living on his own and working as an Uber driver. But Morse told The Mighty that for the last few months, he seemed to be struggling more often than not. After missing his sister’s wedding, he texted an incoherent explanation in his family’s group chat. At one point, he had asked his mom to “have his brain checked.” Morse jumped at the opportunity, but Mikese never came to any of the appointments she made. “There were fewer and fewer moments of clarity,” she said.
His most recent hospitalization occurred when, after sending threatening emails to the police, he actually showed up at the Tampa Police Department district office and told them he might hurt someone. He was then hospitalized under the Baker Act — a Florida law that allows people to be held involuntarily in a psychiatric institution for up to 72 hours. This was his fourth time being held under this law.
Although Morse and her husband were hoping her son could stay in the psychiatric hospital for as long as it took to get him the help he needed, he refused to take medication. When a lawyer was sent to talk to him, he reportedly became aggressive. After a week in the hospital, they let him go.
Morse and her husband found out he had been released when he called them asking about his car. According to Morse, there was no discharge plan. He came to her house holding a packet of information about housing options, but the prices listed were outdated, and some of the numbers he tried to call didn’t work.
When Morse asked her son if there was any talk about medication, he showed her a map he had been given to a pharmacy.
He was released on a Tuesday. That Sunday, he had planned on meeting his family for Sunday dinner. On his way to his parents’ house, he hit and killed a father who was riding his bike with his two sons.
In her Facebook post, Morse wrote:
He was recently admitted to a mental health facility after taking HIMSELF to a police station asking for help. We PLEADED with them to keep him long enough for proper treatment. We gave them his history and told them he’s highly intelligent and would be able to talk himself out if they weren’t mindful. He was released after a week. That was Tuesday and yesterday he killed someone. Our most sincere condolences go to the other family. You can read all about it online but as you do, please remember this the face of the utter and complete FAILURE of our mental health system. We HAVE to do something! The only thing I know to do is to share our story.
Morse told The Mighty gaps in the mental health system made it nearly impossible for her and her family to get support for her son. In order to keep someone in a psychiatric hospital involuntarily, they need to be a “danger to themselves or others.” But having a mental illness or being in a psychotic state isn’t a reliable predictor of who will become violent. Being psychotic isn’t against the law, and opponents of forced treatment fear that lowering the standard for when someone can be hospitalized involuntarily will set the stage for even more human rights violations.
For those who have been discharged, there is minimal support and the risk of suicide increases. Morse said Mikese needed more than a packet of papers and a map to the pharmacy. He needed a plan. He needed to know what his options were. There needed to be a level of care between hospitalization and fending for himself. Now, instead of being locked in a psychiatric hospital, he’s sitting in a Florida jail facing first-degree murder charges. Morse believes a better outcome was possible for her son.
“We almost accepted that this is our new reality. Maybe we’ll just get him with the bits of clarity we can get, and it’s OK,” she said. “But he needed someone in his corner in the mental health system. He needed someone on his side.”
After years of being silent, Morse is ready to share her family’s story. Mikese’s sister, Chalisse Watkins, has also spoken out.
In a Facebook post, she shared a picture of her and her brother. She said what happened to her brother and the man he killed didn’t have to happen, and that she mourns for both of them.
I mourn for my brother, his state of mind and conscious whenever he’s able to grasp the reality of what has happened. Because even the police during the interview were blatantly aware that he was not aware of what he did, why he did it or what had happened…
Be mad at the lack of support for our mental health institutions and regulations that allow huge warning signs to be ignored.
Be mad that our legal system and mental health system only want to help when someone’s struggle with mental health affects some one else.
This didn’t have to happen and the truth is mental health issues is EVERYONES problem and now a family has lost a husband, father and son because despite a cry for help no one who could help would help! #MentalHealthSystemFailedUsAll
This is my brother Mikese Morse and I love him more than anyone will ever know!
Lead photo via Twitter and Facebook