Editor:

I hardly know where to begin except to say “Thank you” to the McAlester Police Department for their help last week when my daughter was injured during an altercation with her older sister. The emergency medical technicians were wonderful, very kind and attentive. My grandson was very frightened but with the help of my precious neighbor, the McAlester Police Department and the emergency medical technicians everyone will recover. I hope. A special “thank you” goes to police officer Ken Bethune for being so understanding and returning to see if we were OK.

I didn’t get the names of all the officers, since things were a bit hectic, but thank you.

One thing that I wish to address is the deep need we have to try to understand the very important issue of mental illness. Nowhere has the issue been addressed, not on the front page of this newspaper or during the radio report. It was merely stated that one woman had stabbed another. The “rest of the story”, so to speak, is that three weeks ago, this same young woman who was stabbed had called the McAlester Police Department to try to get her older sister committed to Carl Albert Community Mental Health Center on an Emergency Order of Detention. (I was at work).

You can’t just drive up to CACMHC and have a person taken in due to mental problems. You must have an Emergency Order of Detention. Instead of getting help for her sister, she was taken into custody for fines that we were behind in paying and the sick young woman was left home because she did not “fit the proper criteria for being EOD’d.”

We know what the criteria is, that’s why my daughter called. Her sister has had an ongoing mental issue for at least 12 years. She has been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. She does OK sometimes, but then there are times when she is not OK. The voices she hears wreak havoc with her and she has had to be hospitalized numerous times.

I guess what I am trying to say is this: If this sick young woman had been hospitalized three weeks ago (instead of worrying about the fines, which are now current), a young woman would probably not have been stabbed and a young woman would not be facing criminal charges that she cannot even understand. She was trying to “save” her nephew from what the voices were telling her had happened to him.

Heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, to name just a few, are things that we treat everyday. But the brain is so very difficult to treat, to understand, to heal. Somehow I just do not feel that spending 25 years in a penitentiary setting is quite the place for redemption from mental illness.

I guess to further my quest, I am merely asking that everyone concerned to be a bit more understanding, cooperative, more empathetic — and pro-active — to stop this type of tragedy before it occurs again.

I hope it is not too late for my child, but what about yours?

I hope and pray that you do not have to deal with this type of issue ever in your lifetime — but some of you reading this will. Some of you have. CACMHC has a team that is assigned to my daughter to help.

If, in the future, that team could be contacted, or CACMHC could be called to inquire into the background of a person before a case is dismissed as “not meeting the criteria” when they really do meet that criteria, maybe someone else’s future could be a bit happier that it appears that my daughter’ (both of them) lives will be.

One daughter bears scars on her face and in her heart. Yet the other daughter bears scars on her mind — and in her heart and her very soul. Can you imagine what it is like to live a day in her mind? How troubling, how hopeless; maybe jail will heal her.

Thank you for listening while I try to make a difference in someone else’s life and make sense out of my daughter’s life (who was perfectly normal her first 21 years).

Am I my brother’s keeper? Scripture says “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are calling according to His purpose.” So I guess I am trying to glean some good out of this nearly tragic incident and possibly help someone else in the future.

Before we judge, let’s help.

Marchaela Thomason

McAlester

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