Something Terrible

It seems that 20 year old Jimmie Dawkins had some problems. Police say  last year after they were called about an argument with his mother Sonia Taylor, 44, they took him to a psychiatric hospital for an evaluation. And they were at the home twice on Mon. once at 3am and again at 3pm. Monday’s call was allegedly also in regards to an argument with his mother. Police say there was no signs of violence, so there was no arrest Monday.

There were other problems in the home. Mom’s boyfriend had recently had a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair and required the services of a home health aide. The boyfriend’s nephew had also come from Jamaica to help care for his uncle.

Police received another call from the home on Wednesday morning. His mother told the police to hurry or

“something terrible was going to happen,”

By the time they arrived a few minutes later it was too late. They found the mother Sonia Taylor, the boyfriend Arnold Lawson, 47, and the home health aide Syndia Boye (some reports say her name was Brye,) 28, dead from gunshot wounds to the face. Dawkins had also shot himself in the head.

The nephew was the only person left alive. He told police that he was in the room with his uncle when the Dawkins burst in with a gun. After shooting Arnold Lawson, Dawkins then allegedly shot the nephew. The bullet struck him in the leg and he fell over into a closet. He played dead and the shooter left the room he then left the home through a window.

The weapon was found near Dawkins body.

Police say the mother was increasingly frustrated with her son being unemployed and spending his days smoking marijuana and that he acted irrationally. Family has said that the mother was concerned that he might hurt someone in the family and that police did not arrest him when they were called.

But police say that the mother did not express that fear to them, and they did not have cause to arrest him. Police also say the mother had never gone to court to seek a protection order or an eviction order.               

It is often assumed that when someone starts acting irrationally that you can put them into the hospital and they take medication and get all better. However, it is not that simple.

If the person is an adult, in order to be admitted to the hospital they must either be exhibiting clear signs that they are a threat to themselves or others, or they must sign themselves in voluntarily. If they are admitted for exhibiting signs they might harm themselves or others, they will only be admitted for long enough for an evaluation to be completed (usually two or three days.) In order to force a longer admission, the doctor must obtain a court order.

It can be hard for a parent. If they feel their child is mentally ill, they want to get help for them. They don’t want their ill child to be in jail or homeless. They might be reluctant to force a mentally ill child out of the home, to exist on their own. At the same time they may fear the adult child.

I don’t have the answers to this one. It is a pretty common scenario. Taking them to the hospital might work- but they must be willing to go and to agree to treatment.

Calling the police sometimes works- but they must exhibit signs of violent behavior in front of the officer or you must have evidence their behavior had been violent. You risk their being arrested, but if they are you can speak to the court and try to get the judge to request the mental evaluation.

In order to take them to court for an order declaring them incompetent you must have a doctor’s who has evaluated them. Again you are back to the fact that in order to see a doctor, they must be willing to agree to the treatment.

If all else fails, a family may be forced to make going to a doctor and taking their medication  a condition of remaining in the home. And if they fail to do so, the family may have to follow through with ordering them out of the home. 

No solution is easy with a mentally ill adult child.  If a child shows signs of being ill while they are under 18 it is important to get them the necessary treatment. Because once they turn 18 it becomes much more difficult.


1 Comment

  1. Michelle said,

    April 19, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    It is a very difficult process but if you feel your loved one is “potentially dangerous” you really have to try to step back, take a deep breath and take steps to probate them. Which just means for a time they will be hospitalized and given their meds, see drs. and therapists, etc. Until they think they are well enough to be out, then the carousel begins again..round and round it goes.
    I have a friend with mental illness and the toll it takes on family and friends is unbelievable. It was Never easy but when my friend stopped taking her meds, her sister would take the steps to probate her. Not just for others but for herself. The sad and scarey thing about it is that when youre mentally ill alot of the time the ups and downs are not always the same. Sometimes she would be just giddy and seem off in space. On other occasions she would get very testy and be physical. You never knew which side of her you were going to see. One time I went to her house and she got so angry with me because I was trying to make hr take her meds that she hit me. I had to push her onto her bed. For a minute, I was actually afraid of the look I saw in her eyes. My lifelong girlfriend that I grew up with, since grade school. The girl I was so close with, we were inseperable. That moment she was a stranger to me and I was frightened. From that day forward I approached her with much more reserve, and after I had children my mind would wonder to places I didnt want to go when she would ask me to bring the kids for a visit. I guess my point is that she WAS a gentle soul but mental illness changes you and I dont think anyone can predict where those thoughts they cant control, are going to take them.

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