Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Aftermath of suicide attempt

Hello Dear Caretakers, This is my first post to these forums. I am so sorry to introduce myself in such an abrupt manner, but I do believe you will all understand. I am the mother of a 26 year old son who has the symptoms of schizophrenia but has only been briefly hospitalized and medicated twice. After release from the hospital he stopped taking medication, so he has basically been non medicated and without psychiatric care for the past ten years of suffering. He has mostly lived with me throughout this time. We are currently living in Nevada and he has Medi-Cal. Last night he attempted suicide by a horrific butchering of his forearm (I apologize for the graphic detail). We had the paramedics out within 15 minutes and he was taken to the nearby hospital. I was not allowed to see him after his admission. I was told by a psychiatric nurse that he must be seen by a psychiatrist before I would be allowed to see him. I believe that will be sometime this morning. The reason I am writing is that I would like any advice anyone may have about working with the medical system to see that he remains hospitalized until he is stabilized on medication. I know that if they release him after the 72 hour observation period that he will not be medication compliant. How should I be discussing his situation with the hospital staff so that they keep him for as long as possible? I feel like this is our chance to maybe finally get the help that he needs but has consistently refused throughout these years. If they just release him back into my care, I am terrified of the consequences. Sending much love and compassion to all of you.

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I unfortunately have been there. My son was committed in September and they didn’t get him stable on meds and he also had issues staying sober so he went into 60 day rehab. That was wonderful ! lots of talk therapy and a psychiatrist working with him on meds. Unclear if that was an option for you.

I am so sorry for what you are going through. I hope you can find the support you need here.

If they won’t talk to you, try sending faxes to the hospital designated for his psychiatrist. Detail your son’s history and your concerns and be sure to leave a contact number in case they will contact you back. Some doctors will and some won’t but usually they will at the very least read them. Good luck!

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Thank you Jeannet, mmm61, and hope. I very much appreciate your responding to me. After I wrote my post, I had a further look around these forums and found advice very much like you have given hope. I immediately wrote a detailed letter and I did not hold back on the grizzly details and ended with an emphasis on the risk of letting him out after a minimal stay. They have responded by transferring him to a psychiatric facility which I see as a good sign because last night they were telling me he would not be able to go there as it was “full”. I am still waiting to hear from the new hospital and will be calling them soon if I do not hear from them. I am understanding that even though communication may be only one way (from caregiver to psychiatric services) that that communication can sometimes carry weight. Thank you again to all three of you for reaching out to a stranger in need.

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Remember they can’t answer any questions about him but they can listen. I called and talked to drs and social workers at each point even when they couldn’t confirm he was there. Each time the dr’s said thank you but never offered any updates on his progress.

Do you have the medical power of attorney for him? If not, he will have to sign papers for you to have the power to make the medical care choices for him. In Texas we needed a notary , he came to the unite with us and my son signed in the hospital . I hope and pray for his recovery. God bless you and please stay strong for yourself.

I am so glad that you sent a letter to his hospital with all the details. With the new hospital, you should do the same thing. A fax addressed to the doctor with details of the past treatments, meds, hospitals and doctors is very important. Hopefully they will contact you. In my state, the hospital contacts the court to have a person appointed health care proxy for those being held involuntarily if their stay is going to go beyond the 72 hr hold. Sometimes (in my case they did) the hospital will contact you to be that appointed health care proxy if you sent them a fax about your loved one’s care. I was allowed to become proxy and suggest long acting injections (since my daughter was never med compliant in her 4 prior hospitalizations). Good luck.

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I’ve no better advice to add, as it seems you’ve already received the best already from the rest of the folks here, and these are the ones that are best in the know (In my humble opinion)! I do want to simply say though, thoughts are with you. It’s a tough and scary road. You’re not alone. You found the right place.

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I am so grateful to all of you for your input. I have been trying to go this path alone for a long time and it is just now dawning on me that it takes many people on our team to face this thing.

Jeannet - What you are saying is really hitting home. Just because we receive no response does not necessarily mean our words have not been heard. I spoke with the second hospital several times yesterday and they did receive the summary of my son’s history from the other hospital. I am going to work on that summary from now on, as I am sure it will come in handy as the future unfolds.

Mojoclay - We do not have medical power of attorney. I am going to start looking into this. My son did sign a paper with the second hospital agreeing that they could divulge information to me about the care he is receiving there.

Oldladyble - It is so kind of you to reach out. I have seen your name quite a bit as I browse this forum and your voice is always so intelligent and helpful. I have not heard the term health care proxy before. I am looking into that.

Wisdom - I so much appreciate your support and kind words. They truly make a difference to me.

I am now waiting to hear from the psychiatrist handling my son’s case. He has not been seen yet. Apparently they are very busy at this hospital. I am sitting on pins and needles to find out when they are planning on sending him home and praying that they will keep him for an extended stay. The good news is that the damage he did to himself is not life threatening and he should fully recover use of his arm. I will post a bit more here as our story unfolds, in the belief that perhaps our experience can help someone else. Certainly those have shared their experiences here is of great help to us. May we all find stability and even joy as our experience unfolds.

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I am so glad that your son signed to allow the hospital to speak to you about his care. That is such a good step for him to take.

Do take care of yourself while he is in the hospital. He is safe there, and it is a good time to try to relax and get some peace, and breathe deeply. The emotional tension you have been going through should be easing a bit.

Remember you have people here on this forum who have been through it all too. We understand and are hoping for the best for you and your son.

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Thank you very much oldladyblue. It has been a strange few days as the shock of what happened has processed through me. Numbness and exhaustion, but that is starting to lessen, as you say. This forum has been so valuable to me and it is surprising how much just being understood can help in a situation.

I am going to give a little update here. I have been helped by other people’s stories, so perhaps ours will help someone else.

The social worker finally called. She asked me a lot of questions about my son, so that was very positive. She is supposed to call again this morning and I am working on a list of questions to ask her (including what possibilities we have for rehab as Jeannet mentioned above). She told me that the psychiatrist had so far diagnosed him with major depression and they are continuing their observation. I am thankful that they are addressing the depression as that is our most pressing issue of the moment. Apparently they are allowed to keep him ten days from the time he was first brought to the emergency room without his consent. After that he can make an appeal to a judge for release. My fingers are crossed that he won’t do this and that the hospital will keep him even longer. As far as I am concerned, the longer the better. Judging by my limited interaction with the hospital personnel I would say this is a much better place for my son then the hospital he briefly stayed in twice in California. My son even told me that it was much better.

May this be a good day for all.

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I’m glad you reached out in this forum.
I know what you’re going through and many people posted what I would have said. Been through many hospitalizations with our son in the past 20 years. Suicide attempts are not uncommon after a hospitalization.
I would suggest talking with his psychiatrist about getting a monthly antipsychotic injection.
My son does this monthly and I go with him to make sure he gets it. Has been out of hospital for three years since doing that.
Sending positive thoughts your way.

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It sounds like you are doing everything you can proactively do to help your son. I am so sorry for this situation but sincerely hope that it leads to real help for him. I think due to the very real harm he did to himself that he will be kept longer than he might in some other situations.

FYI, HIPAA law actually makes it recumbent on the medical provider to communicate, even in the absence of a signed release, with someone else like a parent or spouse IF it is in the best interest of the patient. So you may or may not get information from a hospital or in an emergency situation. Being polite to the staff sometimes will lend to your getting some information. Each person on staff can be different in that regard sometimes.

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Thank you so much Butterfly and hope4us for reaching out with your sound advice. I am so sorry that it is based I am sure on your own hellish experiences.

Butterfly - Getting him on an injection is definitely a goal of mine now. I cannot see how my son is going to swallow a pill everyday when he believes there is nothing wrong with him. It just seems like so much more to manage then going in for a monthly injection. I am speaking again with his social worker on Monday and will be bringing this up. Thanks so much for the encouraging story that your son has been out of the hospital for three years!

hope4us - Such a good point you make about the variety of interpretations of HIPAA. When I first started calling the hospital, I heard a lot of HIPPA. Then I called in the evening when there was no longer a receptionist and the gal who answered gave me a lot of information on my son. And then she got him on the phone - something that will never happen during the daytime I have discovered. I also think that they had a signed release from him for 2 days before I was given any official information. Hospitals can be quite baffling.

Tomorrow I will speak with his social worker and see if they have formulated a plan for the coming week. It will be 8 days since he was first brought to the ER. When I speak with my son it is all about how he wants to get out. He even said he wants to get out and smoke weed. I listen to that and am terrified, although I say nothing. I know that weed makes him psychotic.

I hope that all reading this find peaceful moments in their day and all mothers know that they are heroines on Mother’s Day and everyday of the year.

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@Steadfast, I am in the same situation. Son may be released after 10 days, including 2 days in the ER. Says he doesn’t need meds. My wife and I hope to have a meeting with the social worker and possibly the psychiatrist prior to release to see if they advise us to keep possession of his meds and watch him take them, if he is willing. I don’t see any other way as he threw them all away shortly before being involuntarily committed.

Have no hope of a LAI, since he’d have to agree to it. At this point, my wife and I are resigned to practicing LEAP, praying for a miracle, and resigning ourselves that he may need to be soon involuntarily committed again. That could easily happen within weeks if he does not work with his psychiatrist on medication compliance.

Thank you for sharing caregiver1. I would be very interested in sharing notes with you as we go forward as it does sound like at this point we are in similar situations. It is quite possible my son will refuse the LAI as well. I have not discussed it with him or the hospital.

I am sure your son is very frightened. What a horrible turn of events, but we all understand. My son was impossible to live with until he got on injections–and he did NOT want to go on them. We had leverage and his doctors used it wisely. The leverage was he wanted back to school and the only way his doctors would let him back, after his medical leave, was with injections. He very reluctantly agreed and everything slowly shifted. He has been on injections for over 2 years and he is compliant only bc he was so terrified of where his life ended up. He has no insight about what happened–all he knew was he could NOT go back to his previous situation. After a few tries he found a doctor he eventually trusted. Is there something he wants, no matter how small, for his life? (ie job, measure of independence, degree…) You can say “if you try these injections and they make you feel better/relaxed/more like yourself, you can be in a place to accomplish this goal.” Without injections, my son would be in a horrible place. Even well, my son never says he has SZ. Not sure he fully understands, but the only thing that matters is that he knows “shot=a life.” Best of luck. Keeping you in my prayers…

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Grace. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for your kindness. I was just on the phone with the social worker, who so far is our main contact with the hospital. I mentioned to her that my son has been wanting very much to get a job. In fact he had just started a new job when he did his first attempt. He told me at that time that he “just couldn’t do the job” - I think it was because he could not maintain concentration even though it was quite a menial job. It definitely seems like a point of leverage.

Just an update for anyone following. The social worker told me that my son was refusing care for his wound and it appears to be infected. I can not imagine with this evidence that any judge will honor his request for release which may be coming up in the next few days. So just like the suicide attempt, this latest development, although horrifying, is perhaps a blessing in disguise.

In Florida, poor self care can lead to an involuntary mental hold, so hopefully the hospital stay can be extended if your son doesn’t care for his wounds. Or perhaps it can be used in the future for you to recommit him if he is released and still doesn’t care for himself. You would petition the courts ex-parte.

The long acting injection medicine my daughter is on now was originally court-ordered by a judge. I thank God daily for that man’s wisdom as it changed everything for the better for us in Dec 2018.

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