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When considered harmful to self?


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I have a 29 year old son who has been suffering from schizophrenia and psychosis for a little over 10 years. He is on disability for mental illness and we were able to obtain conservatorship. Within the last 3 years he has been self medicating. With all of our efforts he is not in prison but does have a lenghty police record. Currently he is in a mental health facility. Left to himself he will repeat his actions over and over again saying an unseen force is causing his self medicating behavior. At what point in time/when is he considered harmful to himself? Who makes this determination?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi abizzell,

A person is considered harmful to himself when he is threatening to commit suicide. If the threat includes a plan on how to do it they are considered to be in great danger. Then, it is important to call 911, report the situation and he will be taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Ultimately, it is the psychiatrists at the hospital where the decision is made as to whether he is a danger to himself.

I can tell you that you are describing a familiar story of mental illness, drug abuse and hospitalizations. In a great many cases, it takes many hospitalziations before a patient understands that they have a mental illness and must make changes in their life. However, there are those people who never seem to wake up to the facts about their condition.

There is really nothing you can do about the situation except what you are doing. Many studies show that, with schizophrenia, it is the support and presence of the family that makes a big difference as to whether a patient does come to realize they need help and medication. I know its hard but you and the family need to keep at it.

By the way, I want to direct you and the family and your son to NAMI, that is the alliance for the mentally ill and they are on the Internet. Once you find them then you will find FAMI the families alliance for the mentally ill. They can give you a lot of support and advice.


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