Perhaps some of you have heard this news:
A man in a tree made a whole city laugh. Then his mom spoke out, and the laughing stopped.
Lisa Gossett, who was unaware Miller had climbed the tree until her sister sent her a YouTube video, revealed that her son had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
“He’s my son; I gave birth to him,” she told Wasilla, Alaska’s KUOW. "I’m frustrated about not being able to do anything. It’s not like I can take him somewhere. I’ve got to get help."
Gossett told the station that she had asked the authorities — including the Alaska governor’s office — to assist Miller again and again, but to no avail.
"They just put these people back on the streets,” Gossett said. “I feel hopeless. It’s so frustrating because I see his brothers and sisters crying for him. People are scared of him. He’s paranoid and violent. I’ve pretty much prepared myself for his death."
Far too often, we deal with people who have mental illness by criminalizing their behavior and locking them up.
A 2012 study found that prisons house roughly 10 times the number of mentally ill residents that state psychiatric hospitals do.
Nearly 15% of all prison inmates display signs of psychotic disorders.
Sure enough, rather than be funneled into a treatment facility to get help, Miller was jailed following the incident and held on $50,000 bail. He was charged with malicious mischief and third-degree assault and ordered to stay away from the tree, which sustained $8,000 worth of damage.
Suddenly, people saw Miller’s story in a whole new light.
There was an outpouring of compassion for the man in the tree. (Even as the story was developing, there were people speculating about Miller’s mental health.)
Read the full story here: