The the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel there was news that a man at the Mental Health Complex who had become combative, was restrained and medicated and died two minutes after being treated. Earlier this week the newspaper ran an article recounting the stories of earlier deaths at the hospital. The news was not encouraging:; it included a man who had suffered a broken neck. Today’s story was even more discouraging because one of the officers had been trained in Crisis Intervention techniques designed to help prepare officers in de-escalation.

This story raises many questions. For instance, is there video evidence to help show the young man’s state of mind? What happened before he became “combative” that might have triggered him? How many people “took him down”, as the article explained? Is there anything that might have prevented this death from taking place? I am hoping that this death is thoroughly investigated because friends and family of people who receive treatment want to feel that their loved ones are safe, and restraints are used sparingly, if at all.

The second story I read was about near death: a young man stabbed and nearly killed his next door neighbor and her child. He ran back into his father’s house after the crime saying, “I’m sorry dad.” The dad in the story Andrew Wright was a man I had met when he was in his 20’s doing window treatments. He became a founding member of a weatherization business. After the company folded, he went on to become journeyman carpenter. We fell out of touch until we met again a couple of years ago when he told me that he was having trouble with his son. His son was hospitalized a few times and even seemed to be recovering well enough to have an apartment and a job until it all fell apart. The slide downward led to the stabbing and a woman and her baby were at death’s door.

I wrote yesterday about a foolish policy that prevented a woman from traveling on the basis of her mental illness. Tonight we have a two men who have had mental health treatment: one died under strange circumstances and the other rests in jail for two very serious crimes. And when stories like these appear, they are signs of a broken system.


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