Local News

Mother Fears Her Son Is Slipping Through Mental Health System

Posted April 30, 2007 8:54 p.m. EDT

— One mother in the Triangle is campaigning for better mental health care. Tragically, she has a story that gets people’s attention: her son fits a similar profile to the troubled man who carried out the Virginia Tech massacre.

Eileen Marks says she has noticed the signs, but she has few options.

When she heard of the shootings at Virginia Tech, she thought only one thing.

“In my mind, I thought, ‘Oh, my God! The shooter is my child.’ The profile is the same,” Marks said Monday.

She said that, like the shooter, Seung Hui Cho, her 18-year-old son tried to commit suicide, has been committed to a mental hospital, twice, has stalked girls at school and has heard voices in his head.

“I've had the police department here several times to intervene in aggressive situations,” she said.

Now, because of problems with her insurance, her son has no doctor and his medication will soon run out. She said she's not sure what to do.

“It's scary,” Marks said.

She said, “There's not a lot of resources out there,” and mental health officials don't dispute her assessment.

“You can sometimes call up a child psychiatrist’s office, and it can take two months to get an appointment,” Marks said.

Dr. Thomas Cornwall is the medical director at Holly Hill Hospital in Raleigh. He said that while resources may be slim, there is also an overreaction of sorts to major catastrophes.

“We had it with Columbine. We're seeing it with Virginia Tech,” Cornwall said.

“I've had a couple of kids from local colleges committed this past week that way, so there's this overreaction that people get sometimes,” Cornwall said.

Marks, however, said she's not overreacting. She's being proactive, she said.