Posted by: Kate | August 22, 2008

Not Their Fault

Adapted from a psychiatric crisis assessment:

Z. was brought to the hospital by the local police department following an altercation between herself, her father, and father’s girlfriend.  All report that she ran away on Saturday, and was returned to her father’s home by police Monday afternoon, at which time she reportedly made a number of suicidal and homicidal statements but was not taken to the hospital for evaluation.  Today, father and girlfriend state that Z. threatened to kill them in their sleep with a butcher knife and threatened to slit her wrists vertically with a straight razor, which she stole from father’s girlfriend’s hairdressing supplies.  Z. acknowledges self-harm statements, acknowledges desire to kill her father and his girlfriend, and states that it is because they hit her in the face on a daily basis and have left her hog-tied and home alone on multiple occasions.  She states, “The only reason I haven’t done it already is because I’m afraid of going to jail for second degree murder, but I’m not afraid of jail anymore.  I can’t live like this anymore.”

Z.’s history is significant for upheaval and instability.  She has lived with at least 6 different relatives for long periods of time throughout her life.  Presently she lives with her biological father and his girlfriend.  She has no contact with her biological mother, who holds a restraining order against her father, and the rest of her family and friends all live in [another state].  Z. reports multiple instances of sexual abuse by many family members, which was investigated by [other state’s] police and was not substantiated.  Child and Protective Services in multiple states have been involved with this family.

Z. was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in [other state] for six weeks in April and May 2008, and during her stay, her father and his girlfriend relocated to New Hampshire.  They had agreed to establish ongoing mental health and physical health care in New Hampshire after her discharge, but they have not done so.

Z. appears younger than her stated age (14), somewhat disheveled, poor personal hygiene, wearing pajamas and slippers.  She reports a “depressed, suicidal” mood with somewhat flattened affect.  She displays a response latency of 5-10 seconds after most questions.  IQ below average by estimate; previous testing placed her in the 73-78 range (mild mental retardation), although these tests are qualified because the examiner suspected malingering.  She is fully oriented and alert at present.  She displays poor insight and judgment re: self-care and problem-solving.  No evidence of hallucinations or delusions at present.  Admits to suicidal and homicidal ideation with intent and plan.

Her immediate plans to self-harm, paired with recent runaway attempt and ongoing flight risk, create a high-risk situation.  An immediate, emergency admission to the state hospital is necessary at present.  A report will be filed with Child Protective Services in New Hampshire, to request an ongoing investigation after discharge.

Both her father and the girlfriend are eager to explain, in nauseating detail, why none of this is their fault, that she’s just “a bad seed,” and that they want her placed in permanent state custody as soon as possible.  “Definitely before the baby comes,” said the girlfriend, “because the last thing I need is for her to screw up my kid.  We were willing to work with her and try to help her, but she refuses to get better, and now we need to be ready to pay attention to this baby instead.”

The girlfriend gave this statement from her car.  She couldn’t wait in the waiting room any longer, because they wouldn’t let her smoke in the hospital.  She also offered a helpful warning: “Don’t believe a word that girl says.  She lies all the time.”  I refrained from replying that, with parents like that, I’d probably lie all the time, too.

I suppose there are probably ways in which this girl’s life could be sadder.  I just can’t think of any right now.


  1. it never ceases to amaze me what parents allow when it comes to allowing evilness around their children. or even perpetrating that evilness themselves. 😦

  2. What a heartbreaking story. I hate hearing about kids who are pushed aside because mom or dad has a new partner. I’ll never understand how parents can pick a girl/boy friend over a child.

    I hope you’re able to help in some small way.

  3. Blech!!! That just sucks for this poor gilr, with a family like she doesn’t stand a chance for stability and prope care. I don’t think the Steve will improve care but I have to say those taking current guardianship are pretty useless.It is just sad. My siter hada sad conversation with a student this week. The poor kid just moved into a foster home (she asked to be removed from her drug addict parent’s’ care,) the foster family determined she didn’t fit into their family? So they withdrew her from school yesterday and sent her to a state group home. I couln’t magine being 15-ish and no one wanting/loving you. Being a girl at that age is so hard as it is, and then to be cast away, when does the damage stop?!

  4. Good, Kate, I’m glad you recommended admission. There is nothing for her with her father and she has already figured out the what, with what, and how of killing, including the probable penalty.
    She shouldn’t go back there. Oh, if she does it, that will get her care of a sort. I hope there is another way.
    Where will she go and how to help her now after all this time. It is bleak for her.

  5. Those people should be ashamed, but they don’t know enough to be ashamed, do they?

    I don’t know how you do what you do, but I am amazed.

  6. What do you do? Neither solution seems right. She needs help, they need a license to breed!

  7. Sometimes there are no words, and sadly, no solutions that seem adequate to make up for a lost child.

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