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February 26, 2003

Behavior, Community Resources

Question from El Paso, Texas, USA:

I am very concerned about my 14 year old brother-in-law, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about two years ago and cannot accept the fact. He does not want to listen or care about his health. He does inject insulin once a day, but does not take his blood sugar test, and he does not want to follow any type of health plan, because he says he feels fine. He does not want to see any more doctors or does not want any help. My mother in law in devastated and needs help. He does not care and he is acting out in every way possible, he has now joined gangs, and he was an "A" student and as of yesterday he ran away from home and everyone is worried about his life. His mentality is that he is going to die any way. I need to know or I am pleading for any type of referral. Is there a place where he can be institutionalized anywhere in our area in order for him, to receive help? My in-laws are one of a very low-income family, but I am willing to pay in any type of payment plans if there is a place to receive help for him. I am so desperate because we all love him, and every day it gets worse I feel for him because he is a very special child who is grieving and lost in his own world. He has just lost interest in anything positive in life. Help! I need a referral or advice.

Answer:

Your teenage brother-in-law is in great jeopardy. Follow your instincts and intercede on his behalf. If his behavior is deemed “dangerous to self”, he can be petitioned on and mandated to undergo a mental health evaluation. It sounds as if he views diabetes as a death sentence and is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think you should call your local mental health agency and find out the procedure for taking out a petition on him. He is in danger.

CMB