This is a partially off-topic post about something very personal to me, but something I feel compelled to share because there are a couple of things that I think we can make better, and I’d like to raise awareness to those issues. First, the off-topic back story.
About a month before I published my big TSA video in 2012, I met a woman who inspired me to do a lot of things. We dated for almost a year, remaining inseparable even after the dating concluded, and started a music company together that helps me to fulfill perhaps the only part of me that brings about more passion than fighting government abuse. Andrea was an awesome partner to have, whether we were heading to a protest or weaseling our way backstage at a music festival to network with the VIPs. She always encouraged my advocacy, even acting as my process server for my suit against NYPD’s street body scanners.
We accomplished so much together despite the fact that she suffered from serious depression, which, looking back, was getting worse as time passed. Starting from very young, we’re all taught that there is help for people who are depressed. But sadly, help is often times difficult and expensive, and even when you manage to get it, it doesn’t always work. I learned that a good therapist in New York can charge $250 per hour and often doesn’t accept insurance (making weekly treatments $13,000 annually). I learned that prescribing anti-depressants is a lot like rolling a dice and hoping that the pill you takes makes you better rather than worse. I learned that even if you are hospitalized for your depression at the best psychiatric hospital in New York, there is no treatment — they literally just observe you until you feel better (or pretend to, such that you can leave).
Andrea took her own life last month. She was 38 years old.
If you saw her funeral, her Facebook, or the celebration of her life that we held for her, you would have seen that she was incredibly loved by a number of people that was shockingly large, even to me, knowing her as well as I did. But, when you’re depressed, you don’t see that. I know that I didn’t really understand depression before I me her, so let me try to explain depression as I’ve come to understand it, as someone who doesn’t suffer from it directly: Imagine watching a video of the highlights your life that contains all the good things — friendships, laughter, successes — as well as all of the bad things — loss, guilt, stress. You may have a really good life and all that bad stuff may be just a few moments of the video, but when you are depressed, all of the good parts are cut out of the video. The remainder is the bad parts, and it’s stuck playing in your head in a loop. All you see and hear are those times when you didn’t feel loved, when you made a mistake, when someone was mean to you, and a feeling of being truly alone. Your entire existence, in fact, seems to be one giant mistake, and continuing your life can only burden the world with more of your failure. The videos can’t be shut off, and you can’t even remember a time when they weren’t playing. Someone could be talking to you a foot from your face and you literally wouldn’t be able to see or hear them, because your brain is somewhere else. This is how someone like Robin Williams, a man who was loved by so many for his ability to make them feel good, a man who had the resources to do anything he wanted in his life (including obtaining the best doctors that money could buy), could reach a point of desperation to make it all stop — even at the ultimate price — and this is how one of my best friends spent the last few moments of her life.
During the funeral, there were a few people present who were surprisingly upset considering that they didn’t know Andrea all that well, and each of those people ended up telling me that they, too, suffer from depression, and that it could have just as easily been them in that casket. I think it served as a huge wake-up call to them that it’s time to seek treatment now, even though it is difficult and far from certain. I pointed out to them that Andrea could have called anyone in that room when she needed to talk, but didn’t, because no one wants to “share” their depression.
So, the first of the things that I’m hoping we can make better is to remind you (yes, YOU) that if you feel depressed, feel free to call anyone, because more people understand than you might think, and even more people are willing to listen even if they don’t understand. Now is the time to make sure you have a resource to call when you need it, and if you think you’re being a burden on people by calling them, let me assure you that I would give anything to trade this burden of Andrea’s death that I have right now for the burden of talking her through another one of her dark times. It’s also the time to get therapy or medicine if you need it, which I know is hard because finding a therapist you can trust and afford isn’t easy, and taking medicine is scary. But, you probably know if you’re at the point where it’s dangerous for you to continue without assistance, and if you’re there, now’s the time. Two great resource for finding both therapists and psychiatrists are Psychology Today and Zocdoc, both of which let you search by insurance (if you have it) and allow patients to rate their doctors. If you still need help, e-mail me and I will help you personally: jon at professional-troublemaker.com.
The second thing I want to make better is actually relevant to this blog. Andrea lived in Manhattan, and when you report that your girlfriend killed herself, emergency services comes and makes sure you’re ok, tries to comfort you, etc. No, just kidding, of course that’s not what happens… the NYPD comes and holds you as a suspect in her death. Imagine the worst possible moment of your life — losing your closest friend under the worst of circumstances — and then add to that some cops forcing you to go to the precinct and holding you for hours, leaving you in a shitty back room to think about what just happened all by yourself, with no one to talk to. Depriving someone of a shoulder to cry on in such a time has to be one of the most cruel and compassionless acts possible during the worst personal tragedy I’ve yet to encounter. In a city where someone takes their own life every 16 hours, you’d think they’d have worked out a more sensitive way to deal with things.
I’ll be researching further, but my preliminary conclusion is that the police may have had some limited right to hold me briefly under the guise of an “investigative detention” (assuming for a moment that merely reporting a death gives rise to “reasonable suspicion” that you may have caused the death) but case law seems to indicate to me that 1) the duration of the hold, and 2) the forced change of location, violated my rights. Should my further research confirm, I’ll be filing my newest lawsuit within a month or so, as no one else should have to go through what I did and have their tragedy compounded by the police.
And that, right there, is how I answer people asking why I go to great lengths to uphold my rights: Because I am of sound mind and body to be able to stand up and possible help prevent a situation for someone else where their rights being abused pushes them farther into a hole they are in; be it a friend just having died or being stopped and frisked while already late to work with a child depending on them.
Praying for you to have clarity and forgiveness and understanding. And healing of your heart. Keep up the effort. We need more folks like you supporting freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. God bless you and keep it the good work mr. Patriot!
First, I am sorry for your loss. Second, to anyone else out there suffering depression who is reading this, please remember: Depression lies.
so sorry to hear of your loss. I truly hope one day all will seek the peace and healing through Jesus Christ, who is real. he took me out of such despair and I am truly a new person. what did I have to do? I surrendered my own efforts to fix myself after yrs of failing at it – and I asked Jesus to make himself real to me. what he has done for me he will do for anyone who seeks him in humility. this world mostly rejects the power of Jesus Christ- I am well aware of this. I am here to tell you Jesus is real, and we all will die and kneel before him. God bless.
I enjoyed reading about your positive experiences with Andrea. I am sorry to hear of her passing. From your brief posting, Andrea sounded amazing.
Now to making the world a better place in how the police deal with such a incident in the future.
In the prayer for relief section of the lawsuit, you need to find the right ideas to convey with how the police go about this in the future.
NYPD is a different animal then most police forces. I think you may be able to instill change. Since your reported this to them, all records that they generated should be able to be provided to you if you request them with a freedom of information request.
For starters, you will want to find out how they classified your report (the code sequence provided to the responding officers). Then file another request for training material for this code (or a document to be authored indicating that there is no training material). My belief is that procedures that are developed should be available for the public to review for most non-security related issues.
If possible, can you obtain other information on other cases with that same code sequence?
You may be able to avoid a lawsuit and yet instill change (unless you want to nail them for “the unreasonable seizure”). You will need information that freedom of information may grant you — just be sure that the time limit to file a lawsuit isn’t terminated by a poor response to the freedom of information request(s).
Your relocation is for all intensive purposes an “arrest” — during this time did you feel you could leave? Did you ask “am I free to go”? (With your situation of the news received, I can understand not having a constitutional/civil rights mind set). While in the back room, did you have the opportunity to make phone calls/emails/text messages to communicate with friends of Andrea and of yours?
In the initial contact, were there any questions regarding your mental health and even physical health at the time? .
I am a believer in results based policing. I think that the results in this case are not satisfactory. Changes need to be made with how the police proceed with the response. Starting with who responds to the call and in what time frame is acceptable each individual team members response (1st officer, mental health officer, investigation officer, etc. etc.) Please note, the team members do not actually need to meet you but are part of the investigation.
Last questions on the detention:
1) Were you provided beverages?
2) Were you provided snacks and/or meals? (Were they offered?)
3) Did you have the ability to get to a washroom?
4) Did you have the ability to communicate with the outside world?
I think there are many circumstances to need to detain innocent people. The issues are that arise from detention are (a) food (b) drink (c) communication (d) entertainment — ensuring the innocent people have something to do while they are waiting and (e) providing some form of compensation for the time detained and the method of detention.
Please note that compensation can mean forgiveness of parking tickets/towing fees/impound fees for a particular amount even for in the future — or free transit pass(es) — or free fitness pass(es) — something that involves the city.
Sorry about my rambling… I just finished working a 12 hour shift.
Jon, So very sorry for your loss.
Sorry for your loss. I been there.
As to the NYPD, this is a very common ocurrance. I live in Mississippi and this same thing happens here, just not with every case. While I understand that they are trying to figure out what happened and preserve details, when you lose a loved one and get treated this way, it just makes a already awful situation much worse.
My Mother stays with me. She’s 82 and I want to avoid a nursing home if possible. I already know that if she falls or something and dies, I’m going to be in the hot seat even tho I did nothing. Heck, I may be even if she dies in her sleep until the figure out what happened.
I see both sides of this but I tend to agree with your view point. If they arrive and something seems fishy, OK I can get it. If not, maybe get the facts first and then see what needs to be done.
So sorry to hear of the loss of your former girlfriend Jon !
Terribly sorry for your loss.