Random Thoughts: June 05, 2011

Too Late To Help?
by Jasmine Sailing

On March 1 a couple in Burlington was killed. Their 2 youngest children were wounded, but alive. Their 12 year old son was arrested for the murder.

The question has been whether to try him as an adult, or as a juvenile. He would be "the youngest Coloradan in contemporary history" to be tried as an adult, if that were to happen. Keep in mind that this is currently (and will hopefully remain) a juvenile case, and therefore I don't know the details. All ramblings after this point are based entirely on my own aggravations with society and psychiatric-related perceptions.

Earlier today I read a Denver Post article about the case, and the line that persists in haunting my brain (well, the most) was a voiced concern that it may be too late to help him.

Too late to help a 12 year old. Personally, I don't think that is possible. What is possible, and all too often the case, is that there is not adequate enough help for the 12 year old (or whoever needs it). Or any potential help is worse than useless and flat out back-fires.

Reference psychiatrists doling out prescriptions that can cause psychosis or suicidal tendencies, especially in young people, like it's harmless candy. Reference kids getting in trouble for creatively expressing their hostilities (via art, writing, etc) in school, with the obvious follow-up of lying to counselors to avoid yet more trouble.

I canít deny that it's very late to get around to helping when a 12 year old kills his parents and injures his younger siblings. Help obviously should've begun well prior to such a thing happening. You can't just say "Oops, I guess itís too late... bummer that we missed the warning signs" though, especially not with someone as young as 12.

What is our sense of the world at that age? When I was 12 I was in 7th grade, which was the 1st year of middle school for me. I was learning to live out of a locker. I had my 1st menstrual period and wore red like my Mom recommended (now I go for black). I snuck my 1st cigarettes, not knowing I would spend the rest of my life feeling extremely disgruntled with myself over it. Though I was a straight A student I was terrified of everyone in school, deeply socially inadequate, terrible at standing up for myself, and well on the road to self-destructive behaviour (in 8th grade I was a chronic ditcher, I spent time in a mental hospital after admitting suicidal ideation to a psychiatrist, I was on probation, and I got serious alcohol poisoning after stealing and downing a large bottle of Scotch). I had plenty of homicidal fantasies, but, "fortunately", I turned them inward and self-destructed.

I'd already been in school counseling for quite a while, before age 12, because of my "social inadequacies". But I wasn't only afraid of the other kids in school. I was also afraid of adults, and of getting in trouble, so naturally I wasn't very forthcoming with a counselor or especially in group support.

I was distinctly lost, with no clue of how to get help or help myself or even admit that I needed help, and about the only things keeping me from altogether cracking were the mountains (I lived in them, and spent a lot of time climbing around alone outside) and books... I was always lost in books. No doubt I'm fortunate that I had enough luxury to quietly escape into other worlds through books as often as I did. I also wrote violent stories, but they were in fantasy settings and teachers and counselors weren't as bothered by that back then.

At least it wasn't quite the age of giving kids dangerous pills for everything, yet. That was my son's age and, yes, he was handed a prescription for Ritalin. Of course. He didn't take it... by his own choice, but I didn't want him on it either. That was before they noticed they were diagnosing most teens as ADHD because, well, most teens are a bit ADHD. Most people are. At least in this country. Everyone was co-dependent a few years before they all had ADHD, fancy that in a social animal.

I finally experienced the joys of medication around the age of 25, when I spent a month on Prozac and Trazedone. I had serious reactions, including psychosis, and didn't take long to decide I would never touch anything of the sort again. Likely one of the main stimuli behind that prescription (I had actually been seeking counseling due to being in a serious rough spot in life... I didn't get that, I got pills), aside from the self-destructive history in my teens, was because at the time my Grave's Disease was undiagnosed and untreated. That can be a dangerous hormonal imbalance... Having my 1st period when I was 12 might well have been another dangerous hormonal imbalance!

It's easy for me to feel we have no right to be judging whether or not it is too late to help a young person, not when we're so inefficient at actually learning TO help people. Considering giving up at such an early stage should be completely out of the question.

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