Family says mental health system is failing suicidal teen who desperately needs help

Posted at 10:09 PM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 00:31:45-04

THORNTON, Colo. -- Mental health in Colorado has been a growing concern especially after the string of teen suicides at our schools in recent years. One family reached out to tell Denver7 about their journey and how so much more can be done to help those struggling.

Dawnetta Fernandez has run out of options as for the past year she has tried to keep her 15-year-old nephew Nathan Anderson from falling deeper into depression.

"He’s always thought suicide is an option. Those were his exact words. Suicide is always an option," said Fernandez. "He said, 'sometimes I don't want to live anymore. It would be better if I wasn't here.'"

Fernandez lost a close friend to suicide and is currently studying to become a school counselor, so she moved quickly when things took a darker turn and had Nathan checked in to a mental health facility.

But when he got out, the dark thoughts were still there and this time, Nathan acted on them.

"He took out his two bottles of pills and they were empty,” said Fernandez.

There was another rush to the hospital. All the therapy, medication and communication couldn’t pull Nathan out of his dark place. Luckily his story doesn't end there.

"Life kind of feels like at a slump for me," said Anderson.

Fernandez told Denver7 his last option is a 30-day program at a mental health facility. One which, she said, Medicaid is refusing to cover.

"This kid tried to kill himself a week ago. What more do you need to try and save his life? Put him in a facility."

She feels like the system in Colorado is failing her family.

"I wanna feel like a positive part of someone's day, instead of being a negative part of someone’s day," said Anderson.

Fernandez is worried other families are struggling in silence.

"I’m just done with the doors being shut. I need help," said Fernandez. “And if I need help, I can’t imagine the people out there that really, really need help."

If you're feeling suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


Preventing suicide in Colorado: Resources from in-person help to phone lines, apps and more