Michigan Mom Shares Story of Son’s Suicide Hours After Release From Psych Hospital [VIDEO]
A Michigan mother is grieving and wondering why the system failed her, after losing her teenage son to suicide.
Jonathan Huizar struggled with mental illness. Michell Burt says her son was 15-years-old when he held a gun to his own head but did not pull the trigger. He was then admitted to Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, a psychiatric hospital in Grand Rapids.
John frequently shared with staff members and other patients that he was suicidal and that he planned to kill himself upon his release. He carried out that plan one day after leaving the facility.
Aly Stid, a 17-year-old patient at Pine Rest, befriended Jonathan and tells WXYZ that she observed him getting worse during his stay.
“I could see it in his face, I could hear it in his voice. I knew he was hurting himself,” she said. “He wasn’t hiding that from anyone.”
Hospital records (some of which are published here) show that Jonathan's depression was severe and indicate that he spoke frequently of killing himself.
On November 4, 2019, Jonathan said he was suicidal.
The next day, he indicated that he was not -- and was discharged later that day.
Within just a few hours of his release, Jonathan had taken his own life.
So why didn't officials with the state's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) investigate his death? A spokesman for LARA told WXYZ that patient deaths are only investigated when restraints or seclusion has been employed.
The system failed John and his family. But a bill introduced in Lansing could mean an investigation into all deaths of psychiatric patients in Michigan.
Sen. Curt VanderWall chairs the health policy and human services committee.
“The intention is to make sure we investigate so that we can do a better job. We owe it those patients," Vanderwall said. "We owe it to the people that love them and surround them."
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please seek help immediately. The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.