PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Mayview State Mental Hospital closed in 2008 and was demolished. Woodville State Mental Hospital closed in 1992, also demolished. Same goes for Dixmont State Hospital, closed in 1984 and demolished.
Beyond debates over how the mentally ill should be cared for is the reality of a need for treatment – especially for those who are considered a danger to themselves or others.
“Our mental people are supposed to step up and take care of people and they’re just not doing it. These legislators in Harrisburg should be ashamed of themselves,” says defense attorney, Patrick Thomassey.
What goes on inside Alex Hribal’s head is known only to himself and the psychiatrists who’ve delivered their educated guesses in the courtroom.
Depressive and personality disorders, flat affect, impaired judgment, inability to relate, helplessness, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts are some of their findings.
“It’s unbelievable the answers I get,” said Thomassey.
Thomassey, is representing the 16-year-old who is accused of stabbing 20 fellow students and a security guard in April at Franklin Regional High School. He’s been trying to get mental health treatment for Hribal.
“He’s a child – and I can’t find a hospital in this whole state that will treat him,” said Thomassey.
Southwood Psychiatric Hospital in Upper St. Clair most recently turned down a request to treat Hribal citing security concerns.
“Now if he’s adjudicated – or convicted of something – I can get him some help,” Thomassey said. “But now the status is in Pennsylvania – there’s nothing and that’s deplorable.”
Out of options for inpatient treatment, Westmoreland County Judge Christopher Feliciani is ordering that Hribal be treated at the juvenile detention center where he is now being housed.
“I don’t think it’ll work,” Thomassey said. “I mean we’re going to give it the best we can – but I don’t think it’s intensive enough.”
According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness, 4 million children and adolescents in this country suffer from serious mental illness. Half of those cases begin by age 14.
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