CBS4 Investigates: Mental Mayhem
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MIAMI (CBS4) – Across the nation, mental illness is page one.
The man known as the Navy Yard shooter had reportedly complained of hearing messages that he claimed led him to kill.
Just weeks later, a Connecticut mother was said to believe the President was trying to communicate with her. She made her way to the nation’s capital and after driving erratically toward the White House, she was shot and killed by police.
It’s mayhem all too personal for some South Florida families.
“He held onto me. He was asking me, ‘Why did I want to shoot him, did I have a gun?'”
A South Florida mother shared her families personal nightmare with CBS 4 news, desperate to get him help. She explained that her son believed her iPhone was actually a gun.
“I somehow got out of his grasp and ran out the door and called the cops,” she told CBS 4 news.
Her story is one of heartbreak and fear for this mother and her family.
Alarms began when one of her sons realized that his brother was taping up the windows in his room to block out messages he reportedly thought were being transmitted to his brain. He also covered light fixtures and smoke alarms thinking he was being watched. According to his brother, “he believes there are cameras in there. He thinks the dogs two eyes have camera as well.”
The family, whose name CBS4 is not revealing, explained they were desperate to find proper help for their loved one, who, for the past two months, has been bouncing in and out of mental health treatment facilities.
All the while, his family says, he was convinced the government has planted radio frequency chips in his teeth. He wrote on one note…ObamacaresRFID.
According to his mother, “He believes that he had four chips in his teeth. That they are tracking him.”
“This is occurring more and more often. More familes are affected with a loved one,” said Dr. Deborah Mash, Founder of the University of Miami Brain Bank.
She has studied the human brain for two decades and said that with advancements in today’s science, particularly with high tech MRI’s, along with the studies of brains post mortem, mental illness and neurological disorders can be visually detected in the brain.
“The temporal lobe here is where you get the abnormal hallucination and you hear the voices,” she told CBS4 Chief Investigator Michele Gillen. “When a person tells us their hearing voices or they think they have a chip implanted in their brain, this is an abnormal state of activity in the brain. This is something that tells us that they need help immediately.”
Harley Stock is a criminal profiler and forensic psychologist. He knows all too well the often missed or ignored signs of mental illness.
“The handwriting literally, in some cases, is on the wall,” he tells Gillen as he examined police photos that have never before been seen on TV.
Neighbors of a South Florida solider had no idea his walls were hand painted with ominous messages and drawings. That police said shocked even them.
“I’ve seen things you can not even imagine, and if I saw that…I would get out of there right away and call the police,” Stock told Gillen.
The apartment belonged to a troubled South Florida solider whose family told CBS4 news had returned from war with PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
Family members had reached out for help for him time and time again alarmed over foreboding messages and his reported stockpiling of weapons.
Stock has reviewed multiple cases of where men and women,in divergent parts of the world, report they hear voices in their head.
“If somebody says to you ‘God has told me I need to kill,’ don’t dismiss it, don’t laugh at it, don’t say it will never happen. Take action. Call a mental health person,” advised Stock
But despite the soldiers families efforts to get him help; he ultimately was released from a mental health treatment facility. Within hours of a judge setting him on his way- with a warning not to go near guns; he went home, got a knife and killed himself.
“People are desperate everywhere and its sad,” said mental health advocate, Judge Steve Leifman. “Studies indicate that longer we take to treat someone…more likelier there may be permanent brain damage.”
And yet he says that mental health laws and resources for help have not kept up with science;and what is now known about the brain and mental illness. He said there is no safety net.
“It’s not working. It is failing, ” Leifman cautioned. “If we continue this way, people are going to get hurt, people are going to get killed. Why do we wait for something terrible to happen?”