Thursday, December 20, 2007

Did our health and legal system kill Hunter Brown?

The Record gives some insight into the mental state of Trevor LaPierre, who has been charged in the murder of Kitchener senior Hunter Brown - He heard 'voices of demons'. I was ready to blame the parents, but it seems they were aware of how unstable LaPierre was. The system appears to be the real culprit here.

"I knew he was off the wall,'' a shaken Paul La Pierre said outside court yesterday before his 22-old-son made his first appearance.

"I realized the severity of the situation. He'd been using insane language and acting like he was a victim of everything.''

( . . . )

In the past year and half, he's been hospitalized four times, he said. Three of those times were at the Grand River Hospital psychiatric ward. He was released just five or six weeks ago.
"We fought,'' his father said. "He was always released.

"We said, 'Look, we don't think he's ready.' But he was self-admitted. They couldn't hold him. This is totally unnecessary. It could have been prevented.''

'On Tuesday morning, he had made his son visit his psychiatrist.

"They released him with a different prescription."

He was so worried about his son's recent erratic behaviour, he called a cab to take him to the hospital later that day...


Stephen Gehl, a local mental-health lawyer, explains that for someone to be kept in the hospital "there needs to be a mental disorder that results in a present apprehension of harm to self or others, or inability to care for oneself."

Yet the signs seemed to be there. The rest of the article contains interviews with his friends who explain how troubled LaPierre was - especially recently. There is even an online diary where he describes himself as "emotionally unstable", and discusses his interests in Marxism, Buddhism, drugs and sexual fetishes.


On a rave website, he stated:

"Now I crave the unspeakable."


How many other Trevor LaPierre's are roaming around out there like a powder keg - ready to explode?

This tragedy begs for a thorough review of the whole system.

17 comments:

Caveat said...

The mentally ill, and especially ex-psychiatric patients, are at the bottom of the heap.

Nobody cares. Nobody advocates for them. They are either warehoused in health facilities or living in halfway houses of varying degrees of competence or worse, left to fend for themselves.

Most of the homeless people you see in the cities, except for the young rebels, are ex-psychiatric patients or people with an undiagnosed illness. In many cases, they are older people and there is nobody left to care about them.

It's a sad situation and I feel for these parents. Unlike in the old movies, it's generally not possible to have someone 'committed' to an institution, which I actually agree with in terms of civil rights.

It's so sad that in this case, a person of about the right age to be diagnosed with schizophrenia (or another mental illness) was not treated and now a jolly, kind man on a Christmas mission has been senselessly murdered.

We really need to take a look at things, see how other places handle it because we are falling down on the job big-time in this area.

Anonymous said...

I am an attorney and can attest that it is extremely difficult to have someone committed, no matter how ill they are. I have known parents who have tried desperately to get psychiatric help for their mentally ill, adult children, only to be told that they cannot be treated or committed against their will - and of course, one of the hallmarks of severe mental illness is the inability to recognize that one is ill. I hope that nobody blames the parents of the young man - believe me, under our current system, there is nothing else they could have done.

OMMAG said...

Anyone who lives or works in the vicinity of a hospital with mental "health" services can tell you.

There's plenty of them out there.

You expect a system that can seldom get bandaids on right to deal with actual crisis' ?
And don't blame the front line workers ... the problems are systemic and go straight to the top policy makers and administration folks.

Kyle Waal said...

Trevor Lapierre and I were best friends for many, many years.
I'm 22 now and we met when I was about 15.

My comments will be appearing in todays issue of the KW Record.
We began to drift about a year ago when his increasingly unstable mental health became too much for me to deal with. While we did stay in touch over this time, not being there to help him will go on to be one of my biggest regrets.

I had to watch his slow decent into an undiagnosed mental illness. I witnessed him become intoverted, nihlistic and slowly less in touch with reality. He began talking to himself. He would speak incoherently, when he spoke at all, which was rare for him towards the end.

He later would confide in me that he heard voices. He said these voices were of demons.... That they'd taunt him, tell him to hurt people. I'm not sure I'll ever know why I never told anyone about this.

The Trevor that used to spend the night at my place almost every weekend four years back when I still lived with my Mom is not the same Trevor that did this terrible and unmotivated attack. The Trevor I knew was an artist and a filmmaker with a great deal of potential. He was a good humoured guy - we were always joking around. We'd record funny little songs for fun, that kind of thing.

You can say what you will about the man. If dismissing him as a waste of life and a simple scum allows you to see a more black and white, sterile view of the world - all the power to you.

But I think to de-humanize the man is a disservice to the victim, to Trevor and to those who would wish to understand what brings a man to do something like this.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

But I think to de-humanize the man is a disservice to the victim, to Trevor and to those who would wish to understand what brings a man to do something like this.

Kyle, thank you. This must be very difficult and painful for you.

I think the system failed Trevor; and therefore Hunter Brown.

Anne said...

Kyle... while I understand all too well how you might be feeling right at this moment having been in a similar situation myself, I'm not sure who you think "dismissed him as a waste of life and a simple scum" or sees this as a "black and white, sterile view of the world".

All I've read here is concern of a system that allows people with mental health issues slip through the cracks of our system. The grief and guilt that you feel doesn't give you the right to make dismissive accusations about the thoughts of others.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I have known parents who have tried desperately to get psychiatric help for their mentally ill, adult children, only to be told that they cannot be treated or committed against their will - and of course, one of the hallmarks of severe mental illness is the inability to recognize that one is ill.

I heard those points echoed over and over again on talk shows today. These parents are living a nightmare. And as you say, rational thought is impaired when one is mentally ill, so they are often unable to realize that they need help.

Something needs to be done.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

The grief and guilt that you feel doesn't give you the right to make dismissive accusations about the thoughts of others.

Very perceptive, Anne. I think that Kyle is wrestling with a great deal of guilt when he says, "I'm not sure I'll ever know why I never told anyone about this."

Considering that his own parents had difficulty getting the system to listen to them, I don't think you need to feel responsible, Kyle.

Perhaps at some point you may find yourself advocating for a greater share of the health budget going to effective mental illness care. In that manner, you can turn your grief to positive action.

Anonymous said...

Joanne have a look at Brian's law Ontario

Florence

Sandy (COTM) said...

Jo -- When I was in private practice I heard of many of these kinds of situations, although thankfully no one hurt anyone else, but it was close at times.

What I found was that the blame can also be put at the the feet of the human rights industry. People now have the right to refuse medication,to refuse admission to hospital and to live on the street. The rights of the public are now secondary.

It will be very hard to change that culture now because in the past (up to the mid 1970's), prior to these new policies, the very people who all too often did the admitting were all too often the very people that were the problem. It was a threat: if you don't do as I say, I'll have you admitted. And, unfortunately, many doctors were duped to agree.

Obviously no easy answers.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, Florence. Do you mean this?

Not sure if I totally understand it. Do you happen to know more about it?


Sandy - You said The rights of the public are now secondary.

How true! It seems that way in so much of our society today.

The liberal way.

FH said...

brian's law ontario c68
down to #4
choose #4
titled
Ontario Ministry of Health...
top box enter fact sheet brian's law
search
choose #1
wish i was computer savy
Florence

fh said...

sorry Joanne just tried links they are not working

try in search box at top
mental health brian's law

anyway this did not prevent the recent tragedy

the word "imminent" was removed from the involuntary examination, assessment and civil commitment provisions in the Mental Health Act.

by removing imminent you could assess on the basis of danger to self or others in the future if not treated

clearly he was a danger in the future based on his language and unfortuneatly was discharged from hospital much too soonnoloar

very tragic for his family and truly monstrously tragic for the victims family

sorry about previous post not working

Florence

Anonymous said...

What has happened in this case is a tragedy for both families involved. Lack of understanding of brain diseases by both helping professionals and the general public has led to this. The mental health system is not responding to those who need treatment. Access to treatment and an understanding of the mental health act is crucial

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Access to treatment and an understanding of the mental health act is crucial

I totally agree. It is a terrible tragedy for both families. Perhaps a revision to the mental health act is needed too.

Breanne said...

I was extremely offended reading this, being a friend of Trevor's. What he did was terrible but to jump to the immediate conclusion the parents are to blame? Are you SERIOUS? Do you honestly think if anybody had an inkling that this would happen ESPECIALLY his parents, it would have followed through and no one would have acted? How dare you.

Trevor was a very timid guy who was against violence before his mental issues destroyed his mind. This came as a shock to ALL of us who knew him, as his real, healthy minded personality would never show any signs of any kind of agression towards people, especially to the extent it went.

I have had to deal with the mental health system in this province myself before and it's ridiculous how useless it is. With the amount of times Trevor had been admitted there is NO reason why he should have been turned away or not kept for help. Something needs to be done about this system or these kinds of tragedies are going to keep happening. The rate of teen and adolescent suicide these days should be a large enough push for a change but apparently not. Mental health issues seem to be so taboo in our society and all sweeping it under the rug does is ensure the deterioration of our future generations.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

What he did was terrible but to jump to the immediate conclusion the parents are to blame?

Breanne, where did I say that?