HELP! ‘My son wants to kill me’
Sixty-six-year-old Shirley* does not take her mentally ill son's threat to kill her lightly. He has tried to end her life on at least two occasions.
Shirley is facing an even greater fear as now he is threatening to kill children in his rural Portland community, and his recent behaviour suggests he is getting more psychotic with each passing day.
The grim reality the mother faces is that her only child is likely to be killed - or he might be the one to do the killing - because of his mental illness.
However, efforts to get the 32-year-old readmitted at the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston, where he spent 12 years, have been unsuccessful. She says she is told there is no space for him at the public health facility each time she calls.
The unemployed caregiver feels she has only two options at this point: either she pays $50,000 per month to keep him at a private facility or prepare herself to hear the worst. Just a few weeks ago, he was stoned and badly beaten, and not for the first time, he threatened to harm a little boy in her hearing.
"I tell you, it just feels like a night-mare," said Shirley.
"The other day he went out and smashed somebody's windscreen in the scheme where he lives. So right now, it's really a challenge. I am at my wits' end. I honestly don't know what to do," she said.
Shirley said her son had a severe case of jaundice when he was born, but the doctors had no misgivings about sending him home. She, too, had no reason to be alarmed, until she noticed his eyes and nails were getting yellow and another doctor later informed her that her son should have done a blood transfusion to prevent the possibility of brain damage.
Her problems increased as her son got older. When he was three years old, the principal of his basic school told her to take him to the Mico Care Centre to get assessed since he was always getting in trouble.
She eventually got him enrolled at a private institution for special needs children, but there was very little improvement in his behaviour. He changed schools at least two other times after.
Her son got introduced to ganja by a group of boys when he was about 15 years old and his life took a turn for the worse after he started smoking.
"Sometimes I suffer a breakdown, because sometimes it becomes unbear-able," Shirley said.
Her son has been admitted at Bellevue on a number of occasions since the age of 18, with his longest stay being 12 years.
"I didn't have a choice because I couldn't afford to put him in a private home, and I cannot be at home with him sitting down," explained the mother who said she visited him regularly.
However, last December, she decided to take him home for Christmas on the advice of a senior doctor at the facility, who told her she could take him back the day after.
"Looking into it, I think it was a trick to get rid of him," she said.
"What they tell me is that they are scaling down, and they don't have enough beds," said Shirley.
THREATENING DAD, CAREGIVER
Shirley said she decided to send her son to live with his father after Christmas, because she was working in Kingston up until recently, when she lost her job. But she said he has been threatening his father and the woman they have employed to take care of him.
"He tells his father that he would chop him up and he will curse the lady and he throws stones from time to time. He will stone the house and it was a bottle that he picked up and used it to smash the man's windscreen," she said.
She said her son says he is hearing voices and she is told he is threatening the children who pass by his house.
"I am saying, 'My God! I am happy none of them was passing the day he smashed the car, because maybe it's one of them he would have hit with the bottle'," she said.
Shirley admits that she fears her son and recalls at least two occasions when he harmed her. She remembers him throwing stones at her one day after she intervened when he tried to kill a goat and then a chicken in a fit of rage.
"He hit me in my back and I felt like I wanted to drop, but God gave me the strength and I ran from the yard and I managed to run to my neighbour," she recounted.
A few years later as she, her son and his father strolled down Hope Road while making their way from church, her son picked up two huge stones and threw one at her which hit her on the hand. He was about to throw the other stone when members of a police patrol intervened and took him to the University Hospital of the West Indies, where he was admitted to the hospital's psychiatric ward.
"While he was there and he saw me in my anguish and pain, he looked at me and said, 'All like you should a dead. You are lucky'," recounted the senior citizen.
Shirley is now separated from her husband, who she said has got extremely depressed because he has also been abused by their son on numerous occasions.
The only good news for Shirley on this Mother's Day is that a relative recently offered to assist to pay for their son's stay at a private mental health facility which, at $50,000 per month, is among the cheapest rates she has found so far.
* Name changed on request.