Photo: Vernon Michael Childress, Jr, author's nephew whose death would have been prevented by better mental health care in Las Vegas.
I lost my nephew due to mental illness issues this last year. He was walking along the freeway and ended up getting struck by several cars. Everybody has mental illness in their family; it’s not a secret, but where do they go to get help?
During my own personal experience dealing with the situation, I’ve watched so many people, including my own family members, slip through the cracks here in Las Vegas when it comes to serving our disabled community. I recently started taking public transportation and noticed so many people suffering from this ailment.
I have seen so many young black men, just like my nephew, who are not being helped and thus more than mental illnesses are now plaguing them. They now suffer from homelessness, unemployment, hate crimes and abandonment and so much more because of the lack of resources and education available to them here in Clark County. More times than most, when they ask for help, they’re usually arrested.
“Mentally ill” is just such an ugly phase to call a person. There has to be another way that we can refer to our people who are suffering from this ailment. I think the phase itself brings prejudice and bad attitudes toward people who are already suffering from so much. People who have family that suffer from disabilities certainly do not consider their them mentally ill; they consider them their brother, their sister, their aunt, or their mother.
Sometimes I wonder how we are considered the smartest mammal of the Earth when we treat each other so badly, mentally ill or not. Nevada is now known as the entertainment and sports capital of the world. So since that’s the case, why is our mental health system so broken? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, is this growth really worth it if it’s not benefiting the residents of Nevada? How can we be the entertainment and sports capital of the world when we can’t even take care of our own mentally ill?
Clark County, we need to open this dialogue, and we need to do better when it comes to serving this community. This article is dedicated to all the people who have lost their life due to this issue and also to my nephew, Vernon Michael Childress Jr, may you rest in peace and know that your death will not go unnoticed. We will open this dialogue.
See also: Indian Voices Facebook page