sigh....the last few weeks have been really hard.
On Wednesday I got a message on Facebook from a friend in California that one of our friends had died. I went to High School with Beth. We were both in the band, but we didn't really hang out much. She was shy & quiet, I wasn't. After high school we became much closer friends. She went away to college, but we still got together whenever she was in town. Then she became depressed & was later diagnosed with mental illness. She moved back to the town I lived in & we spent a LOT of time together. Her mental illness was a major struggle for her and she would end up in the hospital on a frequent basis. She would always call once her medication had been adjusted & I would go wherever she was to visit & cheer her up. This went on for almost 15 yrs.
Not long before I left California, she had a particularly bad episode and she was committed to a facility. At the time I was told that her illness had progressed to the point that she would no longer be able to communicate with friends and she was expected to stay in a residential facility from then on. That was at least 6 yrs ago...and I haven't had contact with her since.
Beth was not in touch with reality. She wasn't on the internet, she didn't have e-mail & she didn't really have conversations on the phone. She has been on my mind lately, but I didn't have a way to get any information about her. I befriended her mother on Facebook and had been watching her updates hoping she would mention Beth, but she never did. I knew they were estranged, so I didn't feel comfortable asking her Mom for information about her.
On Tuesday, Beth was living on her own, renting a room in someone's home. For reasons nobody understands she took a large knife and walked a block to the closest elementary school. She was cutting herself on her head & upper body with the knife and she gained entrance to the school playground. A yard duty saw her & immediately got all the children to safety, then the police were called. When the police confronted Beth, she charged them and they fatally shot her. I'm not upset at the police, their lives were in danger. I am upset that the system was never able to help Beth. I am extremely sad that it does not sound as if anyone was looking out for her day to day welfare, she was severely mentally ill, yet she was renting a room in a strangers house & living on Social Security disability. I am thankful that the children, the school staff & the police were unharmed. Beth had tried to harm herself in the past, but she had NEVER in my knowledge been a danger to others. I have to believe that she was off her medication and had no idea what she was doing. This article in the Modesto Bee gives a lot of information about the specifics of her illness.
Rest in Peace Beth....you will not be forgotten.