We can be proactive or reactive. We have that choice. To be proactive though, we need to overhaul both the system, and the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is a tall order, which may contribute to much of the resistance. We must remember that these changes begin with individuals, and spread to the larger populace. At the heart of this issue is the perception of mental illness, because the system was founded upon these often negative and derogatory beliefs. If we expect to change the way in which we address our mentally ill constituents, then we must first change out thinking.
It is easy to think of mental illness as someone else’s problem, that is until it touches down in your life. Morgan Geyser‘s mother knows this best: Two years ago I was getting ready for bed as the laughter of three preteen girls echoed through our home. In the morning we would all have breakfast – Krispy Kreme donuts and strawberries – and then the girls would head off to the park. That was the last time our lives were normal and happy. Hug your children if you can. My daughter has been in a jail cell for two years. It is so common that the National Alliance on Mental Health now says that over 10 million adults are afflicted with a serious mental illness, nationwide. They also say that 1 in 5 adults in America will experience mental illness; that is 20% of the population!
Unfortunately the system is not prepared to deal with mental illness of this magnitude. The alternative to hospitals are prisons (although a poor one), and even our prisons cannot handle the influx. In Wisconsin, where Morgan Geyser is currently in a cell, there is an extensive waiting list for treatment. Stevens Point Journal explains, “With the surge in referrals, both facilities filled quickly, causing delays for anyone who still needs a bed. The only alternative for many in the state waiting to get in…is spending weeks in a jail cell” (Full article: Mentally ill inmates left waiting in jail). We must remember that this waiting list is for alleged criminals awaiting trial, many of whom must first prove to a judge that they are in fact mentally ill. During the interim they are left undiagnosed and untreated. Many of these individuals are awaiting trial for a crime, or crimes, committed as a result of being undiagnosed and untreated to begin with.
According to The Intercept, “The United States is the only country in the world that routinely sentences children to life in prison without parole, and, according to estimates from nonprofits and advocacy groups, there are between 2,300 and 2,500 people serving life without parole for crimes committed when they were minors” (Full Article: The U.S. is the only Country That…). Morgan Geyser (12 years old at the time) is currently facing a charge of 1st Degree Attempted Homicide, and is being tried as an adult, which comes with a sentence of 60+ years in prison. In Morgan’s case, she was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated, early onset childhood schizophrenia when the crime occurred, so she falls into both categories: a child and mentally ill.
We at slenderchance.com are looking for people to get involved! Engage by commenting on blog posts. Share this page on your social media sites. Tell the people you know, and ask them to tell the people they know. Donate with the button on the Support page – funds which cover legal fees for Morgan Geyser – and receive a complementary sticker to help promote Morgan’s cause. In an increasingly chaotic world with dwindling resources, where overcrowding is the rule not the exception, we can expect to see more and more mental illness. It is easy to dismiss until it touches down in your life, but the devastation it can create is terrifying. As a society we need to take responsibility for our own!
Those of us with busy lives need letter writing made easy, and so we introduce yet another efficient way to support Morgan Geyser. Simply download the attached document, print, sign and send! A little background on the document: this letter was prepared by a SlenderChance.com supporter who is also a professional psychologist. The idea is that we are all very busy, so the thought of penning a letter and sending it can seem daunting, but if we could provide potential supporters an option that is both intelligent and, more importantly, pre-existing, then the likelihood is greater that more people will take the time to stuff an envelope and lick a stamp.
Many of you have already heard this message, in one form or another, and perhaps you have sent a letter, or maybe you are still finding time do so. If you have not then we urge you take the time to download the attached letter, print, sign and send it to the address below. Next month heralds Morgan Geyser’s slender chance – the reverse waiver hearing, during which she will have one last opportunity to be remanded to juvenile court. We believe that by bombarding judge Michael Bohren with letters (prior to June 17th, 2015) attesting to the importance of remanding Morgan Geyser’s case to juvenile court, he will have the realization that a logical, rational citizenry is calling not for leniency, but justice for a child with schizophrenia.
As I have said before and will likely say again, we cannot undo the damage that has already transpired, but we can work towards reducing or eliminating further damage from occurring. We need to put our emotions aside for a moment and recognize that Morgan Geyser is a sick child who needs our support, care and compassion. She needs us to rally our collective voice and be her slender chance at both treatment and justice!
Support for Morgan Geyser
P.O. Box 865
Waukesha, WI 53187-0865
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV
The Reverse Waiver Hearing is nearly upon us! Next month, June 17th – 18th, court will be convened under the order of Judge Michael Bohren, to determine if Morgan Geyser’s case will be remanded to juvenile court. Now is the time to join our Letter Writing Pool and express the importance of moving Morgan Geyser’s case to juvenile court! When the crime occurred Morgan Geyser had just turned 12 years old, and was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated schizophrenia, yet she is currently facing charges of first degree attempted homicide, in adult court. We at SlenderChance.com believe that this is a flagrant miscarriage of justice. We urge you to join our efforts in Petitioning Judge Michael Bohren to remand Morgan Geyser’s case to juvenile court, where the infrastructure exists to properly address the intricacies of her situation. We ask that you address the judge directly as the Honorable Judge Michael Bohren, and that you opt for the Snail Mail delivery system, despite the additional energy that it requires to pen a paper letter. The impact of actual letters versus emails is profound!
Yesterday heralded some successful news for Morgan Geyser, which was inappropriately reported via the majority of mainstream news channels, so here is the scoop: Judge Michael Bohren upheld a motion filed by Morgan Geyser’s attorney, granting her an evaluation by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Why is this important? Normally children who are involved in the justice system are assigned a social worker. This social worker evaluates the child on a semi-regular basis and helps determine the services a child may need, for example, treatment for mental illness. Because Morgan Geyser is being charged as an adult, DHHS was not scheduled to do an evaluation, as they do not work with adults. This does not necessarily mean Morgan Geyser will receive treatment for her now diagnosed, yet still untreated childhood schizophrenia, but it does bring her one step closer. It is also, seemingly, an admission that at some level Judge Michael Bohren recognizes that he is dealing with a child, not an adult, as she is being charged. One must ask, why would Judge Michael Bohren grant a motion allowing Morgan Geyser access to the resources a child is entitled to, if in fact he presides over a case where she is legally an adult? Hopeful speculation perhaps, but a success that paves the way to the possibility of treatment in the case of Morgan Geyser!
“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
~ Arthur Schopenhauer
Take the Mental Illness Quiz and determine if you (a) believe that mental illness is a disease, and (b) if you support Morgan Geyser! There is much conjecture and controversy surrounding the case of Morgan Geyser, and it has become apparent that people support her without even knowing it. After asking a few questions, most people (even those whose knee-jerk reaction is to damn Morgan) agree that she deserves proper health care, and her case should be remanded to juvenile court. We have recently seen a dramatic increase in support for Morgan Geyser, both nationally and locally, and we believe this is owing to a rational and logical citizenry, willing to reevaluate the circumstances.
Do you believe:
- A disease prevents the body or mind from working normally? (yes) +1, (no) -1
- A disease has harmful symptoms? (yes) +1, (no) -1
- Disease affects both individuals and groups of individuals? (yes) +1, (no) -1
- A person with a disease deserves treatment? (yes) +1, (no) -1
Tally your score, and let’s review the definition of disease:
- “An illness that affects a person, animal, or plant: a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally.” Merriam-Webster
- “A pathological condition of a body part, an organ, or a system resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.” Dictionary.com
- “Any harmful, depraved, or morbid condition, as of the mind or society.” Dictionary.com
- Antonyms: “Health, Wellness” Merriam-Webster
If you scored a 4 then you understand the definition of disease (Yay YOU)! If you scored anything less than 4, take a moment to review the definitions from Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com before moving forward. The study of disease has been around as long as humankind, so there is a wealth of information available on the subject. You should now have a strong understanding of what a disease is, and what the repercussions are. So now let’s see if you believe that childhood schizophrenia is a disease.
Do you believe:
- Schizophrenia prevents the body or mind from working normally? (yes) +1, (no) -1
- Schizophrenia has harmful symptoms? (yes) +1, (no) -1
- Schizophrenia affects both individuals and groups of individuals? (yes) +1, (no) -1
- A person with schizophrenia deserves treatment? (yes) +1, (no) -1
Tally your score, and let’s review the definition of childhood schizophrenia:
- “Childhood schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder in which children interpret reality abnormally.”
- “Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with thinking (cognitive), behavior or emotions. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior. Signs and symptoms may vary, but they reflect an impaired ability to function.”
- “People can describe symptoms in a variety of ways. How a person describes symptoms often depends on the cultural lens she is looking through. African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be misdiagnosed, probably due to differing cultural or religious beliefs or language barriers.”
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
- “Schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment. Identifying and starting treatment for childhood schizophrenia as early as possible may significantly improve your child’s long-term outcome.”
If you scored a 4 then you clearly understand childhood schizophrenia AND believe that childhood schizophrenia is a disease (as you can see by looking back, it fits all aspects of the definition of disease). If you scored anything less than 4, take a moment to review the definitions from the Mayo Clinic and NAMI.
It is well publicized at this point that Morgan Geyser, a now 12 year old child, has been diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia, and as a consequence exhibited and exhibits the symptoms of the disease. Sadly, this brain disease resulted in a delusional state, during which a violent and tragic act occurred. When a person with undiagnosed and untreated narcolepsy causes a near fatal incident, they are not denied treatment and jailed; nor is it the case that a person with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes is charged with a crime when a near fatal incident occurs as a result of their illness. While we are not calling for a pardon in Morgan Geyser’s case, we are calling for this 12 year old child to be allowed treatment, and to face charges in juvenile court. Currently she is facing charges of first degree attempted homicide in adult court. Please take a moment to sign the Petition at Change.Org, Write a Letter to Judge Michael Bohren, or Donate to Morgan’s treatment and legal defense; together we can be her slender chance!
“The physician should not treat the disease but the patient who is suffering from it.” ~ Maimonides
A bail reduction motion for Morgan Geyser may provide her the opportunity to receive the treatment she needs! Judge Michael Bohren will decide next Friday, April 24th, 2015 if Morgan Geyser’s bail will be reduced. If granted, the bail modification request will provide Morgan the opportunity to attend a residential treatment facility at her families’ expense. An article today in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel by writer Bruce Vielmetti explains the details behind this Recent Development.
Now more than ever your Support is needed! This crux decisions means a multitude of things; first and foremost, if Judge Michael Bohren agrees to reduce her bail, it means that Morgan can begin receiving the treatment she desperately needs. It also means that her family will be facing a significant financial burden. The kind of facility that can provide Morgan with the treatment she needs, pending the outcome of her case, a Wauwatosa residential treatment center, is VERY expensive! The financial burden of such treatment would rest solely on Morgan’s family, were it not for the Support feature on this page. Every donation contributes to the now limited financial pool, which Morgan’s family draws from while attempting to address her schizophrenia. Supporters will receive a slenderchance.com sticker, which we hope you will display in a prominent location, in solidarity with us!
This is also a key moment for a logical, rational citizenry to be writing letters to the Honorable Judge Michael Bohren, asking him to remand her case to juvenile court. Join our Letter Writing Pool and communicate these important matters now, either in the preferred method of Snail Mail (preferred because it has a stronger, physical impact), or by using the Email Option on the Contact page. Please address The Honorable Judge Michael Bohren directly and ask him to remand Morgan’s case to juvenile court. Morgan Geyser is a twelve year old child, with untreated schizophrenia, and she needs our help; you can be her slender chance!
“Stop doing what is easy. Start doing what is right.” ~ Roy Bennett
It is now clear that you are her slender chance, based on the Support Morgan Geyser has already received through our collective efforts! Since it’s launch, slenderchance.com has received over a dozen communications and donations! Slender Chance supporters will be receiving their stickers via USPS over the next several days, and we ask that you proudly display your sticker in a place where it can have the most impact! While the Letter Writing Pool is amassing a few communications to The Honorable Judge Michael Bohren, many more are still needed! Morgan Geyser needs a flood of letters to be poured upon the desk of The Honorable Judge Michael Bohren, requesting, as a rational and logical citizenry, that her case be remanded to juvenile court. Morgan Geyser is a 12 year old child suffering from schizophrenia, and she needs our compassion and support! If you cannot write a letter, or donate to Morgan’s cause, please take a moment to share Slender Chance on your social media sites, or with your friends and family via email. Many thanks to those who have done so!
We also understand that this is a hot topic, and it often takes numerous efforts before a person can make the mental leap, and realize that while we cannot undo the damage that has already occurred, we can certainly reduce further damage, by taking responsibility for our weak and ill. Together we can be her slender chance!
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
~ Emma Lazarus
I found The Paradoxical Commandments today, or perhaps I should say, that they found me. I go on a daily search for quotes which strike a chord – assemblages of words that speak to a deeper place within me! I am both encouraged and dismayed by what I find during these quote scavenger hunts. I am encouraged by the endless supply of truth and knowledge which spans the many ages of humankind, yet similarly dismayed by the chasm between our access to this information and our common practices. It often seems the case that much damage is already done before we collectively wise up and take a stand for reason and logic. We are encouraging you to take a stand for Morgan Geyser!
Another little gem I just discovered while on my daily search for kernels of truth, scattered about the digital terrain, was this Huffington Post article written by Jessica S. Henry, concerning the madness of trying Morgan Geyser as an adult, for first degree attempted homicide (read her Slender Man Article). It would seem that more mainstream voices are seeing this case for what it is: extreme injustice! As you know, there are numerous ways you can help by being Morgan Geyser’s voice, and now I have two more for you. First check out the Support Morgan Geyser page on Facebook. This is yet another voice that exists in the public arena attempting to lobby for logic and reason, with daily content pertinent to both the case and to Morgan. I also encourage those interested in the Letter Writing Pool to choose the digital option, if it works better for you, and send your letter through the Contact page. Please ensure that your “Subject” is The Honorable Judge Michael Bohren, and that you address him in “Your Message” directly, as The Honorable Judge Michael Bohren. These emails will be forwarded to her attorney, and will allow you to expedite your voice.
The Paradoxical Commandments
“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
~ Kent M. Keith