DON LEMON: How Much Can A Loved One Do To Save A Mentally Ill Family Member?

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  • By his own account, which police are calling a manifesto, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger had been planning his murder suicide attack for at least five years, since he was 17 years old.

    His parents say from childhood he suffered from mild autism and was socially awkward.

    They knew he was dealing with depression.

    His postings on his social media pages reflected it.

    But they never expected anything like the horror that played out late Friday night when Rodger went on a killing rampage in Isla Vista, California.

    Seven people including Rodger would end up dead, 14 others would be injured.

    Some were stabbed, some were shot and some were hit by Rodger’s car.

    Rodger’s family tried to help.

    They even consulted with someone from a mental health agency.

    Someone from the mental health agency requested police check on the young man’s welfare.

    So just last month after that consultation and after seeing the  social media posts alluding to suicide and killing people his parents contacted police.

    But the family could not do much because when police arrived Roger told the deputies that it was a big misunderstanding.

    He promised he wasn’t going to hurt anyone.

    The deputy told CNN that Rodger was articulate, polite, even timid during their visit.

    And from my personal experience that is usually the case with those who hide their mental health issues from friends and coworkers.

    I dealt with it recently for five years in a relationship.

    To this day, no one other than me and a few family members know.

    And it appears to be the case with Elliot Rodger.

    He tormented those closest to him while putting on a much different face to the public.

    And if there is nothing in someone’s outward behavior that suggests violence there is very little legally that a parent, a spouse or a friend can do to intervene.

    So, police left Rodger’s home last month without even searching it or taking him into custody.

    It’s just how it is.

    It’s the law.

    It’s the law that allowed a mentally unstable young man to purchase three different handguns and over 400 rounds of ammunition in three different cities.

    It’s the law that kept his family from putting their son where he belonged in the first place, under observation or into custody.

    Before he killed all those people Elliot Roger wrote about his fear of being discovered when deputies came to his home at his patent’s request.

    At the end of a 137 page account of his life he wrote, “I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it. If it was the case the police would have searched my room, found all of my guns and weapons, along with my writings about what I plan to do with them. I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can’t imagine the hell darker than that.”

    Now Rodger’s hell has been forced upon the victims, their families and even his own.

    But with his kind of paranoia and secrecy I’m not sure what any parent or loved one could have done to help.

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