Desperately Seeking Answers Part 1: “No One’s Noticed I’m Really Mentally Ill”

Will parity help reduce the stigma of mental illness?

Part 1

“I think I’m just really mentally ill and no one’s noticed…”

These are the words of 17-year-old John LaDue. It could be you’ve never heard of John LaDue, but just last May John LaDue was arrested and charged with multiple felonies which included bomb possession and attempted murder. John has had a number of court appearances since his arrest on May 1, 2014; however, on June 24, 2014, police released transcripts of interviews with John.

 NBC Nightly News discusses the interviews

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

John was wrong…someone did notice

If you watched the above NBC video, then you know that John thought no one in the small city of Waseca, MN, noticed any of his remarkable behavior. As he admits, he was trying to hide his mental health issues. But it turns out that one of his neighbors did notice. This neighbor saw John LaDue fumbling with a lock on a rented storage unit. She thought the behavior was suspicious and she called 911. Her willingness to get involved saved many lives in Waseca, MN.

Getting involved, start the conversation…

In the past few years we have often written about high school aged students, young adults and mental health. John LaDue is not the first, and sadly he won’t be the last.

John LaDue says that he had been trying to hide his mental illness. Dr. Niranjan Karnik of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago discussed this aspect with NBC News:

For teens, part of the problem is that “adolescents fundamentally want to fit in, and anything that marks them as different is a problem,” says child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Niranjan Karnik of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Added to that issue is that adolescents may not even know what “feeling bad” really means since they have less life experience, and shorter reference points to compare the so-called good days versus bad days.

“It’s very common for me to meet adolescents who have been depressed for some time but they don’t have a label for it,” says Karnik. “It’s just how they have felt and they thought it was normal.”
When some suspected something may be wrong, they didn’t want to share out of fear. Karnik has had several patients who have been depressed for years. Their families thought they were just going through the angst of being a teenager, and were blind to what he calls “the subtle crawl of mental illness.”

Check back tomorrow when we will talk about how some parents are trying to make a difference to help others notice when someone is in a mental health crisis.

And don’t forget there is still time to take a course this summer in Mental Health First Aid.  

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