The Keweena County Sheriff’s Office is pleading for more mental health resources following an attempted suicide.
Keweena County Sheriff Deputies responded to a call of a young person who drove their car into a group of trees at around 100 mph. The subject claimed afterwards that they did not want to live.
The subject was then sent to a hospital for medical treatment and a psychological evaluation, and was then discharged with a “safety plan.”
The sheriff’s office released a post on Facebook saying that the results of the assessment did not “sit right” with them, and called the Michigan mental health system “broken.”
Keweenaw County Sheriff Curt Pennala was also dissatisfied. He said, “If we determine someone’s a danger to themselves we take them into protective custody and transfer them to the hospital. Of course, if they’ve got to be seen medically. They’ll take care of their medical needs first, and then help will be called in to assess them afterward. Something falls apart at that point, where I don’t know if it’s just a lack of resources, you know. Let me be clear: some of the staff that we work with from mental health, they’re the best staff to work with. It’s nothing to do with them, it’s just we’re not serving our community like we should be.”
Pennala also spoke to the lack of beds available for mental health patients in hospitals. In the state of Michigan there are over 2,000 beds in total – most of them in the southern area.
In the Upper Peninsula area, the psychiatric beds are often full, forcing officers to transfer subjects to hospitals further away.
“That taxes the county when we got to do something like that, because I have to send two deputies on them transports,” Pennala said.
He concluded with a plea for greater attention to mental health: “When people go into the hospital, this might be the only time they’re reaching out for help. So we need to help them at that time instead of just sending them home.”