Alan and Sheri Snedeker lived in Westport for 30 years. He’s an “eclectic creative”; she’s a painter.
They raised 2 sons here. Kirk is a drummer, and builds websites. Mark — who left Staples High School in 1990, when he had enough credits to graduate — committed suicide at 19.
The other day, Alan saw a Tedx Talk. He learned that psychiatrists and psychologists are the only medical professionals who treat a body part that they do not test, look at or scan.
Instead, he says, “they rely on medical companies to create a pill that, hopefully, will work.” Alan is convinced that his son would be alive today if his brain had been scanned.
Alan wants Westport teenagers — and their parents — to see this video. He also sends some thoughts on Mark.
Mark told me one day, “You will never know how bad I feel.”
He attempted suicide the next day…the first time. Police found him, and rushed him to the hospital. I’m sure that a scan of his brain would tell us a lot about his depression.
He was hospitalized in Norwalk Hospital, and given nothing but lithium to help his feeling.
He was mixed with alcoholics and drug addicts, and treated like he was a moron.
After Norwalk, we had Mark on daycare at Silver Hill. He was deeply depressed. One day he went out to take pictures. At Staples, he easily shot excellent photographs. That day, he came back with nothing.
He was 19 at Silver Hill — legally, an adult. The psychiatrist he saw could not tell us to search his room for weapons and drugs — and we didn’t think to do it. We did not know that people who attempt suicide often do so more than once.
On the day he died I was raking leaves. I thought to myself that exercise is good for a person in depression.
The day before he died, he acted normal. That should have been a warning sign. We now know that people kill themselves when they are strong enough to do it.
I found his body in his bedroom. I could barely recognize him. He was totally disfigured. He must have suffered terribly before he died. He took hundreds of pills.
My point is 2-fold. Demand brain scans for manic depression and depression. It’s ridiculous that this is not done for mental illness.
And don’t treat a 19-year-old with mental illness as an adult. A psychiatrist should talk to parents, and possibly prevent a suicide.
There have to be better ways to treat people like Mark. The brain must be studied, and people over 18 must be able to talk to those who care.