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Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Roosevelt HS Shooting: Failure of Mental Health Care System
By News Release @ 12:41 PM :: 5827 Views :: Education K-12, Health Care, Justice Reinvestment

by Andrew Walden

At Roosevelt HS yesterday, Hawaii has had its first 'school shooting' as police were apparently forced to fire upon a 17-year old knife-wielding suspect in a school councilor's office.  And like the mass shooting incidents which draw so much media attention on the mainland, the Roosevelt HS shooting is the result of a failed mental health care system.

In an interview with HNN, the suspect's mother describes the revolving door of mental health facilities and half-way houses through which her son has passed in the last year:

...Shereen said her son is mentally ill and had just escaped from the Queen's psyche ward about two weeks ago.

Since then, he's been in and out of her home and early Tuesday morning, she filed a missing persons report.

Making matters worse, Shereen said her son recently began using drugs.

"My life was pure hell," the Nuuanu resident said.

"I was constantly calling the Department of Health and the appeals officer because I wasn't equipped to deal with my son who was supposed to be on medication and who was diagnosed with NOS, which is a psychiatric disorder."

NOS, which stands for "not otherwise specified," is used to describe psychotic disorder that eludes specific diagnosis. Its characteristics include delusions and radical personality change....

...her son has been institutionalized several times but wound up running away each time.

"My son has been at Merimed (Foundation), he escaped Bobby Benson, he escaped Kahi Mohala, he escaped many times in detention homes," she said....

KHON speaks with neighbors of the suspect:

...Miyamoto says he’s heard a lot of noise coming from Navares’ house and has also seen the teenager get angry out of the blue.

“Yeah, all of a sudden start yelling. I mean, I don’t know what the reason was. He would be out here by himself going off,” Miyamoto said.

“The first thing I told my husband when I woke up is, ‘Oh my gosh! I wonder if that’s our neighbor?’” the neighbor said.

But neighbors says Navares was getting some help and had been going in and out of the hospital for the past year-and-a-half. They’re hoping that this latest incident will get him the help that he needs....

Failure defined:  The suspect was in the mental health system for over a year.  He had a diagnosis.  But it still takes a shooting incident at a local high school for the suspect to finally "get the help he needs".  Under pressure, the officer had the wherewithal to shoot the suspect in the arm--but even in repose, the system is not organized to provide tough love: frankly the chances that he will now get treatment remain slim.

Mental health is the number one cause of Hawaii emergency room admissions--driving up the cost of health insurance.  The mentally ill fill our prisons.  Criminals fill the Hawaii State Hospital, causing violent incidents with staff.  Mentally ill persons left to their own devices 'self-medicate' with street drugs--often worsening their condition and leading them to further criminal activity.  And the refusal to institutionally treat the mentally ill is a root cause of homelessness.  

Solutions to the mental health crisis would shore up the financial sustainability of medical care, reduce crime, reduce drug abuse, and by reducing the cost of medical care, reduce the State’s multi-billion dollar unfunded liabilities backlog. And prevent school shootings.

---30---

HNN: Interview with mother of teen shot by police at Roosevelt High School 

KHON: Neighbor's Describe Teen's Mental Health Episodes

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