Saturday, June 2, 2012

Another Sign That Something Is Terribly Broken in Mental Health Treatment

From October 17, 2011 WSMV channel 4 in Tennessee:

Police said Johnny Swack shot Reinalda in the face while she slept.
Family members said he called 911, said it was an accident, then waited patiently on the front porch for officers to arrive.
In the weeks and months leading up to the shooting, Susan Swack said something was very wrong with her brother.
"He thought people were poisoning him. He thought people were following him. He had been trying to turn himself in at police stations and he wasn't wanted for anything so they wouldn't keep him," said Susan.
Susan said she called police once and asked them to take his two pistols away, but Johnny Swack had a legal permit.
She said he was even treated at a mental institution just weeks before the murder, but Susan says Johnny was diagnosed with bipolarism, medicated, then released.
"They refused to talk to the family at the mental place. I said, 'he's paranoid schizophrenic. He has guns and y'all need to do something about him.' And they released him a few days later," said Susan Swack.
Susan feels Reinalda's death could have been prevented and she said something needs to change.
"The law needs to change. They need to speak with the family. They really do," she said.
 I am no supporter of arbitrary actions by the police, but when family members tell you that someone with a carry permit is mentally ill--and he has been trying to turn himself into police (usually a tipoff that something isn't right)--you would expect them to ask some questions, wouldn't you?  At a minimum, might it make sense to suspend his permit pending some sort of evaluation?  Or at least some word from the mental hospital that he was at?


  1. Does the HIPPA statute prevent the mental hospital from cooperating in this case? We don't want to go back to "snake pit", but if someone is a danger to others, shouldn't there be a way to prevent this sort of thing?

  2. I am sure that HIPPA plays a part, because when my brother was first hospitalized, psychatrists were quite willing to talk to our parents.

    Yes, there is a way to prevent this sort of thing. I'll be putting out my book finally on Kindle on the subject in the next few weeks.