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extreme paranoia leading to criminal actions

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  • extreme paranoia leading to criminal actions

    A family member living in a different state has recently begun to display signs of extreme paranoia, but refuses to seek help. This family member also has diabetes which sometimes is not controlled well. The combination of extreme paranoia and poorly-controlled diabetes sometimes leads to very erratic behavior. This behavior has recently included criminal acts which may involve breaking and entering and theft.

    To my knowledge this person has not been arrested, but that could change at any moment.

    I am asking for any advice on how to help this person.

    Without serious help dealing with the paranoia I suspect this familiy member probably will not live much longer.

    If this person is arrested and his criminal actions are deemed to be the result of mental and physical illness, what might I expect would be the punishment?

    If no charges are filed by the stranger who was victimized what can the family do to help this person if he continues to refuse to seek medical help for his mental condition?

    If this is not an appropriate forum to raise these questions please suggest an alternative.

    I have gotten my information over the phone from a different family member who lives with this person.

  • #2
    Contact your local mental health agency ASAP! They have trained professionals who can contact your family member and conduct an evaluation before he harms himself or others. Most states allow people who are an immediate threat to their safety or the safety of others to be involuntarily hospitalized for evaluation and treatment by mental health professionals. Don't wait for some innocent third party to be harmed, he/she might be someone you care about.
    "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

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    • #3
      The man is in the hospital right now and it does not sound like he will be arrested.

      The hospital is going to do a "psych test". However, the mental health places I located via the internet seem to be voluntary. I have no idea what kind of mental health facility to contact that would require a visit from him if he did not want to go.

      On a different topic, nobody seems to know where his car is. He does not remember. How does one go about locating a car? He almost surely does not know what his plate number is. However, it is an out-of-state plate. He gave the name of a town where the car might be, but I could not locate a town by that name using Google.

      Thanks for any advice.

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      • #4
        I'm not sure how Florida law works but here in MD, there are many options available...I would imagine that FL has similar resources. One thing to consider is an emergency petition (involuntary committment for a psych eval). Here, certain medical professionals, police officers, and family members can do the petition. Its a little more difficult for family members to do them without the help of a medical professional, but it is possible. In MD, a petition is filed with the courts and a judge can sign off on it (very similar to an arrest warrant). Officers can then take that person into custody just like a warrant but instead of jail they go to a hospital.

        As Pulicords mentioned, your local mental health organizations should have a ton of resources available.


        In regards to the car, that is a bit more difficult since its not stolen. You can contact a local police agency and see if they can browse the MVA database off of the name. A check through the MVA should show all vehicles registered to that person. This will help you get a tag number and other vehicle information (make, model, year, etc). You can then start your search from there. I would first make sure that the MVA has a current record of the address associated with those license plates. If the car ends up getting towed, at some point a letter should go out to the registered owner explaining the car has been impounded somewhere. You want to make sure that letter makes it to the correct address.

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        • #5
          I appreciate the response. I spoke to him on the phone Monday night. He seemed to think he would be in the hospital a while longer, and I said I would call him again the next evening.

          When I called yesterday evening he had already been discharged. A mental health doctor has talked to him and concluded he could make his own decisions. So the hospital said they had to let him go.

          He is now essentially homeless. The family member he had been living with has changed the locks and said he is not welcome back.

          When I spoke to him on Monday I asked if he had any money and if he had my phone number. He said he had a few dollars, but not the number, and he did not write it down over the phone. When I hung up on Monday I thought I would have more time to figure out how to help him.

          As it is, as far as I know, right now he has no home, no money, no job, no place to go, no phone, nobody knows where he is, at the end of the week his health insurance will expire, and he has 2 weeks worth of insulin.

          At the end of two weeks I imagine somebody is going to get seriously hurt.

          Since a psych eval was done before he left the hospital I don't know if an emergency petition is still an option, or how anybody could locate him if it was.

          I do know the name of the town where he went to look for his car. The hospital paid his cab fare for him. It's in PA. Maybe I can try calling the police there.

          I'm the only family member he has left except for the person who changed the locks while he was in the hospital. I guess he has to decide for himself at this point whether he wants to live. I don't know what I can do.

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          • #6
            A nation-wide missing person report was filed with the Pennsylvania State Police and a 302 is being issued at Crisis Services.

            Thanks for the advice.

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            • #7
              Deleted...............
              Last edited by wirefire2; 08-29-2008, 06:14 PM.

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              • #8
                Your ID says your in FL, but you stated that he was ot of state. If he was in FL, local police or a doctor could "Baker Act" him because "it is likely he will not care for himself, which could cause harm to himself or others". Most states have something simular to this, however some are more strict than others. For instance the previous state I worked in said a person has to actually threaten or attempt suicide. I would call a local (his area) crisis center and find out what you could do.
                Work harder! Millions on welfare depend on you...

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                • #9
                  It sounds like your mental health laws are similar to California's. Here, the person has to be an imminent threat to the safety of themselves or others (inflicting physical harm) or gravely disabled before they can be involuntarily taken in. Gravely disabled roughly translates to whether they know how to acquire food or medical care for themselves. So, if they know they can scrounge food out of a trash can, know they can dial 911 from a pay phone to call an ambulance, and are not violent and babbling, the psych ward won't take them.

                  With respect to the missing vehicle, the stolen vehicle system used to allow for the entry of lost vehicles. After the vehicles has been sitting unattended and gathering dust for a while, some observant cop will run the plate to see if it is stolen, it's lost status wil be discovered, and you should be able to find out where the car is. But first you need to find the license plate number. Some state DMV computer systems allow for a search of vehicles registered to a person by name. If you know what state it is registered in, a search by your family member's name should turn up the vehicle and license information. (You will have to go through your local PD for this.) The only problems is, I don't know if you local police agency will take a lost vehicle report, or if the stolen vehicle system accepts lost vehicle entries anymore, or whether you can report the vehicle lost, or if your family member must do it. In any case, its worth looking into.
                  Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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                  • #10
                    I'm not sure how much more to post publically, but he returned to his vehicle. This has been confirmed by the state police, I believe, who spoke to the taxi driver who took him there. So he was able to relocate the car. That is the last anybody has seen or heard from him. That was Tuesday.

                    I'm pretty sure everything is in the missing person report, including detailed information on his diabetic and mental state, recent photo, description of vehicle, and his last known whereabouts.

                    Regardless of whether I keep posting in this thread, I do sincerely appreciate the tremendous help already given by the PA State Police, local police in the immediate and not-so-immediate area in PA, and on this forum.

                    Given what I know about his medical history pertaining to diabetes, I suspect his life is in immediate danger and I hope that if and when he is located by an officer that the officer is able to detain him for his own safety. If he cannot be detained, I accept that.

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