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How we react as a society to mental health issues does matter

A man who spent almost eight hours on a Tulsa bridge brought traffic on I 244 to a halt while he contemplated taking his life. In the end, he chose life. But, what brought him to the bridge and what will keep him from returning to it?
by Jean Williams Modified: June 10, 2014 at 11:31 am •  Published: June 9, 2014
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Traffic heading in and out of downtown Tulsa on I-244 was brought to a complete standstill for almost eight hours on Friday, while police waited for a man pacing back and forth on a utility bridge to make a life or death decision.

What happened was a demonstration in skill and patience by the first responders. The man, after more than seven hours, came down from the bridge and was taken for a mental health evaluation.

Reading about this made me wonder, “What value do we put on quality of life?”

We can speculate about the kind of support this man might have or might need. NewsOn6.com reported that he is a known sex offender and could face charges for assault and battery against the police. But, the story does not tell us much about the nature of his crime or the extent of his victimization.

Readers on Facebook commented on the story, and only a few offered understanding. Most made comments ranging from harsh to vulgar. But that was on Facebook. Thankfully, they were not at the bridge.

The comments on Facebook had little to do with our society's core values. Thousands were delayed for hours by the traffic snarl this event caused. Yet, there was not another acceptable course of action but to wait as long as necessary.

Our society values life and is prepared to make sacrifices to protect it.

At the end of the eight hour ordeal, Daryl Kaiser’s will to live won out over his wish to end his suffering. But what will his life look like?

It will be up to our judicial system to decide whether this man should do time in jail or time in the hospital.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jean Williams
NewsOK Contributor
My degree in Psychology did not prepare me to recognize mental illness in my own family. I authored the brochure "What to do in a Mental Health Crisis in Oklahoma County," not because I had the answers, but because I didn't. A wide variety of...
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