'A call I pray I never receive'
December 21, 2007
I READ your Spotlight series "Breakdown: The prison suicide crisis" (Page A1, Dec. 9-11) through the eyes of a parent whose son has a mental illness and is an inmate who has experienced solitary confinement.
The phone call that Leslie Aranda received telling her that her son had committed suicide is a call I pray I never receive.
I have experienced the devastating effects of segregating a loved one who is out of touch with reality and cannot comprehend why he is being isolated and forbidden contact with his family and his private possessions.
My son has helped me to understand why someone would prefer death to being psychologically tormented and physically caged with the horrors of his delusions and hallucinations.
In addition to isolation, he has also been the victim of careless errors and dangerous decisions by correctional and medical staff. For example, medications for his physical and mental health problems were either not prescribed or abruptly discontinued or decreased to below therapeutic levels.
Contrary to the way many view people with mental illness, he was very aware of anticipating, and then experiencing, the deterioration in his physical and mental health status.
I pray every day that my son will survive another day of his incarceration.
YOUR SERIES on prison suicides was informative. However, I am concerned that this is presented as a mental health issue.
Many people who entered prisons certifiably sane were driven to suicide by the extremely dehumanizing environment. That needs to be addressed.