It’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around the events of the past few weeks and perhaps that is why I struggle to find the words to yet again tell this story. But it’s a story that needs to be told, the kind of story that opens your eyes and perhaps prepares a better way of doing things in the future that will prevent this sort of tragedy from ever befalling a family again.
First, I need to tell you about my son, Elliott. At the time this story starts he was 21 and recently engaged. He and his fiancé had recently adopted a dog from the humane society and he was excited about their future together. Elliott was a fun loving, always moving, bundle of positive energy. His smile was contagious and his heart enormous. He donated and partook in many different humanitarian charities and his compassion for people and animals was unparalleled. At 21 years of age I have never heard my son say a curse word, his respect was inspiring. He enjoyed caring for various plants in his grandmas backyard in particularly papaya and avocado trees I had started for him. He also had coconut trees and many varieties of palms he had started on his own. He was a happy, nature loving, young man with a kind heart and a bright future who loved fishing and his family.
But then things started to change…
Little things that may go unnoticed at first…he stopped brushing his teeth. This was strange because his teeth were his pride and joy. He withdrew emotionally, getting him on the phone or to return a message was impossible. He stopped watering his plants or even tending them. The guy who couldn’t stand to stay home now didn’t want to leave the house.
And then it just got worse…
Elliott began to hear the radio and television talking to him. He believed the flashing red dot on the DVR was a sign the government was recording him. He became convinced that Jesus Christ had returned, that the rapture had taken place and that the government was going to start “purging” citizens. His girlfriend and sister actually drove him to a church to prove to him that the government wasn’t there with buses as he believed and that the congregations were safe. He became obsessed with his salvation and believed he was unredeemable that all hope for him was gone. He had missed the rapture. Everything became a sign, pictures on the covers of books, words or images all held hidden meanings to his mind that began to rob him of sleep. He would pace back and forth with his racing thoughts trying to piece together the plot he was now convinced had been hatched to kill him personally. He wanted to clean out the refrigerator to hide in it for protection from what he referred to as the purge. He told his girlfriend he needed to get a gun to protect the family.
And then he became increasingly agitated and started to hurt himself by punching himself in the chest with a lighter so his girlfriend called 911 and reported him as hurting himself. She expressed her and the families fears that he may hurt himself or accidentally hurt someone else. They needed help that they hoped the police would provide. The police came and assessed that Elliott needed to be Baker Acted so he was removed from the home. This was Elliott’s worse nightmare come to fruition, the government had succeeded in getting him. His last words as he left the house was in the form of a question “Why did you do this? Now they are going to kill me?”
Our family did the right thing. Everything should get better now….right? We couldn’t have been more wrong.
Elliott was taken to a Medical Center on a Baker Act. He was admitted early Wednesday morning well before dawn. He had to be sedated to be moved from the ER to the mental health ward. On Thursday family went to visit him but no doctor had evaluated him at that time. I held an hour long phone conversation with him trying to assure him he had not committed the unforgivable sin. He expressed an extreme nervousness as to why the nurses needed to take his blood pressure so often and I told him they needed to make sure he was ok. He was set to be released on Friday at 2pm if the morning doctor said he was well enough to leave. We still had no idea why he was seeing or hearing things that weren’t there or why he had this plot about the purge.
He never got to see the doctor in the morning, instead I got a phone call from the local jail my son had been arrested and charged with a felony. The hospital had placed my son in a room with another man and in the middle of the night my son hurt the man. Why a hospital would place a man in the middle of a psychosis in the room with another patient I am not sure, especially when he had been admitted for being a danger to himself and others. Elliott was seeing and hearing things that weren’t there, and Elliott has no real recollection of what happened. He admits to blacking out and seeing bits and pieces of what happened.
The police then take Elliott to jail, question him and imprison him. Elliott had received no anti-psychotic drugs of any kinds at this point. He is still in the middle of a full blown psychosis that centers around the government killing him. On Friday night in that jail cell my son tried to kill himself twice. On Saturday he had a bond hearing and the family was able to bail him out but Elliott had to be remanded to a mental health facility to be evaluated for his suicide attempts. On his intake I was able to talk to him. He said “ Mom did you hear what happened?” I replied “ Yes honey I did.” Thinking he is talking about trying to hang himself. He goes on “ Michelle called the police on me I was hurting myself mom”. He had lost two or three days of his life. My hour long phone call on Thursday was gone. This hospitalization did allow him to be started on anti-psychotic drugs but the paranoia and suicide attempts continued. The new hospital made me his proxy on a Monday of that week. His paranoia prompted him to call me screaming about how they were evil and they didn’t care about him they had me fooled he said as he dropped the phone and ran down the hallway I could hear him screaming they are doing experiments on him. A nurse picks up the phone and asks if they could sedate him and I agreed.
The next day he took a colored pencil, placed it against a block wall and tried to ram it through his temple as he smashed his head into it. It has been this sickening feeling of a race between him killing himself and his medicine finally working. He was trapped in a nightmare in his mind by people who were trying to poison him through the water, keep him over medicated, and do experiments on him. He was still hearing voices and seeing hallucinations. Then I got another phone call, the police came into to the new hospital and removed him back to the jail almost one week later on a new charge. Anti-psychotic drugs can take weeks to work, all this while my son is confused and still completely delusional and extremely suicidal.
I made frantic phone calls in the middle of the night to anyone that would listen trying to get ahead of his arrival at the jail. I am a mother pleading for the safety of her son from 1100 miles away. I talked to the people in booking and was given the number for the medical ward of the jail. I explained that only hours early he had stabbed himself in the head with a pencil. He was highly suicidal and was on active suicide watch at the prior facility. They assured me he would be safe. His bond was set the following day at $100,000 and I have not heard from my son. He gets no visitors, no mail and no phone calls. It’s been a week. I call everyday and ask if he is safe. They will tell me nothing more. He has been in paper clothes sleeping on a mat for a week. He does receive medication and gets to see a doctor.
We did everything right and my son is suffering. Our family is suffering. This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and it’s NOTHING compared to what he must be enduring.
I’ve spent many hours in prayer. I’ve called NAMI and gotten resources through them. I’ve read article after article on paranoid schizophrenia and I’ve learned that Elliott’s story is not unique. Most first time diagnosis comes after some run in with the law or after the person hurts themselves or others. In Elliott’s situation it could have been worse, he could have killed the roommate. We could have waited to call and he could have hurt himself or his family. Or any of his dozen or more suicide attempts in treatment or jail could have been successful. The sad thing is we did everything right to get him help and to prevent a problem and it wasn’t good enough. The system is broke, people are getting hurt when it is absolutely avoidable.
At the end of June we had all attended a family reunion in Kentucky to celebrate the 4th of July. We had crept across the road to look for crawfish, arrowheads, and minnows in a little stream. My son sat down on a rock next to his girlfriend and told me he had heard the audible voice of God. Being involved in Ministry I thought this had been a supernatural spiritual experience, but unfortunately I know now that it was probably the first voice to show up for my son.
My son is still in jail and we have had no contact with him. He needs to hear his family loves him but we have been denied that. It is December 22 and Christmas is only three days away. He spent his 22nd birthday (December 9th) in a mental health facility this year on suicide watch. Mental illness is no respecter of persons. I have an uncle and a cousin who both are paranoid schizophrenics. There have been Nobel Peace Prize winners with it, there have been black and white, rich and poor paranoid schizophrenics. They say with proper medication and a good therapist he can live a normal life. I am beyond thankful my son is alive and that we have hope. I am dedicating my life to telling this story to anyone who will listen to me until the system changes. It is unacceptable that a very vulnerable part of our society is absolutely unprotected.
My sons name is Elliott. I am Elliott’s mom. I am and always will be proud of my son he is the bravest person I have ever met.
My name is Tamara my phone number is 1-304-684-9550 please feel free to contact me if you know of any information or resources we should be looking into this story is a plea for help and solidarity.
UPDATE: January 29, 2018
Elliott is still incarcerated. We have had only three family visits with him, each lasting an hour. His visitations are often revoked, sometimes at the last minute even. He has been in and out of the medical and the behavioral unit for this entire month swinging between stability and suicidal thoughts and actions. I can only call the jail each day and ask if he is alive, via guards, i am not allowed to speak to my son. That is the only information I am given and where he is housed. We did start a gofund me account in order to raise the 10,000 bail we need to get him moved from jail into an actual in patient treatment center until he stands trial which a date has yet to be set. If we are unable to remove him from jail, he will continue to live in 23-24 hour isolation which is not helping his illness at all. If you can help PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING ANY AMOUNT. ALL ARE APPRECIATED BE IT $5-$10 WE ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL! THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS!
Update: February 12th 2018
Through the GoFund Me and the church and family pulling together we raised enough to bail him out. He was remanded to a mental health facility until February 17th when he was able to come home. He finally received proper treatment and started on an Invega monthly shot along with respidone and that seemed to be working well for him. He was officially diagnosed as Schizophrenic.
UPDATE : March 5th
Elliott was rearrested on an additional charge “Attempted Murder With A Weapon” a comb found at the scene of the original crime. He is currently being held without bond at The St. Lucie County Jail in Fort Pierce Florida. This can carry a sentence of LIFE IN PRISON! ALL BECAUSE WE SENT HIM TO THE HOSPITAL WITH POLICE TO GET HELP! And we haven’t heard from him since.