How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Norman M. Your Own Question
Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Norman M. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My son had an incident last night and I don't know how to

Resolved Question:

My son had an incident last night and I don't know how to help. He threatened suicide yesterday and, luckily, only shot a hole in his hand. He refuses to see me, but will see his dad and his 3 siblings. Before shotting himself, my daughter and I held the rifle away from him, got him talking on the phone with his dad (my ex), who finally called the police. During his talking, he said he has had thoughts of suicide since he was 7. He has emotional and anger issues. He was on anti-depressants last year, but stopped taking them because he thought it was stupid that he needed a pill to be happy and it's stupid that the only point in life is to be happy.
He was supposed to start summer school on Monday (he's 19 and trying to get through college in 3 years) and the family was more concerned about his classes than the fact that HE NEEDS HELP. What can I do? Can I get a court order saying he's a danger to himself and others? What's the best approach?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 6 years ago.
To help me to help you, can you tell me:-

Has your son been detained for observation?
What is his father's view?
What have the police done?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

My son is having surgery on his hand this morning. He will be in the hospital for 2-3 days under observation.

His father's views are that my son is angry at me because of the man that I am in relationship with. My son wants him to leave and has made that clear for 3 years. His father thinks my son has a chemical imbalance that can be "fixed" with medication. FYI, our divorce came out of my ex's reliance on his psychiatrist and the medications and his unwillingness to go to therapy and deal with his diabetes (violent mood swings).

His father wants to sit in class for Matt so Matt doesn't miss his classes and hung up on me when I said I would quit paying for Matt if he didn't get help.

The police took a report. Since the rifle was never pointed at my daughter or myself, they couldn't do anything else.

Expert:  Norman M. replied 6 years ago.
A couple of things. First, the police action .

The laws of committal vary from State to State, but in general there are broad similarities.

Committal is a legal means of providing individuals with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment when required. It can be voluntary or involuntary.

A voluntary committal is when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent or guardian of a person age 17 or under, applies for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis or treatment freely and of their own accord

An involuntary committal is when a person is taken to a facility for involuntary examination.

This can only be done when :

There is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness

The person has refused voluntary examination and

The person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary and without care or treatment, and the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself and such refusal could pose a threat of harm to his or her well being;

and there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself, herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.

A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours.

A law enforcement officer may take an individual to a facility for evaluation if he has reason to believe that the individual's behavior meets the statutory guidelines for involuntary examination.

If a person is willing to swear in a Petition for Involuntary Examination that he has personally witnessed an individual causing harm to themselves or others, an "ExParte" for an Involuntary Examination can be made.

A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours on primary committal.

These are general guidelines, and you should get legal advice as to what specifically applies in your State as soon as possible. It may well be that if he is on a 72 hour hold that it can be extended, but if not, and he has been voluntarily admitted to hospital, a new application for committal can be made.

Please make this your first priority

Your ex has appoint about a ‘chemical imbalance' in the brain. Less than optimal serotonin levels are generally regarded as being a major issue in depression.

While medication on it's own is useful, better results are often obtained by a combination od psychotherapy and medication

One cannot diagnose at a distance, but from what you say, he may be suffering from mixed anxiety and depression - depression is causing him to feel bad, and the other part is that his negative thinking about his life situation is just adding to that.

Both these things can be dealt with by a combination of proper medication and a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a form of therapy that addresses problems in a direct and targeted way and is brief compared with most other therapies.

The first thing he needs to do is to see his Doctor - he will give he a full diagnosis and if appropriate, start him on a suitable anti-depressant medication. He will also want to rule out any physical cause of what he is experiencing.

Depression is seen as a chemical imbalance in the brain, just as diabetes is a chemical imbalance in the body. Diabetics take medication to stay well, why shouldn't he?

He should not be afraid of taking medication - it could really help turn his whole life around

Two important issues about this - when he is on medication, he must take it at the correct dose and as prescribed. It is no use missing doses or messing around with the dose.

Secondly, he should know that anti-depressants can take up to 8 weeks from the start of therapy before they begin to show beneficial effects, so it's no use quitting after two weeks.

I mentioned CBT - here is the rationale behind it. It is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also cause the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts' are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted, the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts' then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something "done to" the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

If he cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:

Make the first step NOW - get an appointment with his Doc, and he can start to get better.

You'll also find some very good help here:
Norman M. and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

So you mean call his psychiatrist and I go talk to the psychiatrist about matt or get an appointment for Matt?

So I can't do anything to require Matt to see the psychiatrist?