GEORGIA MENTAL HEALTH
Unstable mental patients freed by flawed system
By Alan Judd
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Chris Pak pleaded with doctors and nurses at the state psychiatric hospital. His sister, Na Yong Pak, was still psychotic, he said. If they let her go home, he was afraid she would kill herself or someone else – their mother, most likely, the frequent target of her schizophrenia-fueled rage.
Two weeks earlier, Georgia officials had pledged to use caution in discharging patients from its psychiatric facilities. Federal investigators had sharply criticized the state for releasing patients to homeless shelters and bus stops, street corners and abandoned buildings, with little hope for continuing treatment or, in some cases, survival.
Now, on a Friday evening in January at Georgia Regional Hospital/Atlanta, Na Yong angrily refused to sign her discharge papers. She cursed the nurse and swore she would not take her antipsychotic medication.
The doctor and nurse sent Na Yong home, anyway.
“That,” her brother would say later, “is when I knew hell was going to break loose again.”
Twelve days later, after she left Georgia Regional, authorities say, Na Yong doused her mother with gasoline, struck a match, and watched her burn. Myong Hui Pak, 58, died 10 hours later.
Na Yong, 32, is in the Gwinnett County Jail, charged with murder. Her case illustrates the deficiencies that plague Georgia’s mental health system and challenges the state faces in making corrections mandated after a federal civil-rights investigation of hospital conditions.
"Her depression gradually turned darker. She yelled at people no one else could see. She would drink only Coca-Cola, but often threw nearly full cans on the floor and against the walls. She accused her mother of poisoning her food."
Since 1953, we have known that adrenochrome malfunction - sometimes related to caffeine - can trigger schizophrenia. See research by Abram Hoffer here and here, as well as an in-depth investigation of caffeine and mental health in our previous post here.
Many young people have a break with reality under the stresses of establishing themselves as adults - while consuming empty calories or toxic foods. But with proper nutrition, vulnerable people's stories do not have to end in tragedy. Link
We would like to see an investigation into caffeine/cola as factors in this murder, though we wonder if the city that is the center of cola manufacturing would permit it.