When family members are mentally ill.

Most people love their children, and take serious their responsibility to care for them…..even if they are adults.

So what does two parents do when their child is mentally ill? Hospital stays are short term.  Long term facilities are scarce and expensive. And even then it can be hard to relinquish your child to an impersonal institution.

Tonya Dudley, 43 was found dead in her home on Sun. and her husband Jack Dudley, 47, and 3 year old grandson were critically injured. Their 25 year old son Jack Aaron Dudley was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his mother and with aggravated battery for wounds suffered by his father and 3-year-old nephew.

Neighbors have talked about some strange behaviors that they have noticed exhibited by the boy in the past. And on at least one occasion he was picked up for threatening one woman’s son.                                                  http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/news/local/crime_courts/13937624.htm

Now, I don’t know if Dudley had ever been treated for mental illness. And I don’t know if he was on medication or if it was ordered, I don’t know if he was taking it. I do know that oftentimes parents in this situation are in a catch 22. They want to see their child with a place to live and be cared for. And often they want to see that the child gets treatment. But, for a child who is over 18 years of age, they cannot force him to do so, unless they have gone to court and had him declared mentally incompetent. For that, they often need attorneys and doctors to back them up. And they need courts to back them up. And once they do go to court and have them declared incompetent- that is just the beginning. There is still the matter of finding them a safe place to live, make sure they are keeping their doctors appts, and making sure they are taking their medications. It is expensive and exhausting and often the resources are not there to help them find their way through the legal maze. If you have someone with mental illness in your family, I would suggest that you get in touch with the mental health board in the county in which they live. They can tell you what resources are available in your area, and often can offer invaluable assistance and advice. Another suggestion would be to make contact with the closest NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness). And most counties have a local mental health agency.


If the person is a minor child, I would suggest that people not wait to see if the child gets better on their own. Because once they turn 18, it gets that much harder to get them into treatment as by then they either have to consent to it, or the court has to order it.


  1. amy said,

    October 29, 2007 at 1:46 am

    yes aaron had medication he was seeing a doc he was my older brother and my mother was a very great person she did all she could for him she would have never gave up it was my son that was hurt and his injury was not from a knife he survived with some lifetime reminders of the day but i feel justice can never be searved in this case tonya is my mother and there is no taking the pain of that day away

  2. October 29, 2007 at 3:45 am

    Amy, my sympathies to you and your family. You are right. When you have lost someone at someone else’s hands, justice is only a word. It doesn’t bring them back and it doesn’t take away the pain. There is no way to change all that and to bring her back.
    I hope your son is doing ok physically. I know it will take time for him to recuperate emotionally, at his age he may or may not forget but there is a good chance he will learn to cope with what he saw and heard that day.

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