Susan Moreno is a mother who has devoted her life to helping others. Sharing the story of her son and what he went through during the final years of his short 23-years of life.
His name was Daniel - his mother tells News Reporter, Jennifer Martinez that he was a good kid with dreams of going to Harvard University but those dreams changed when he was 17-years-old.
"I miss him. There are no words that can explain how much I miss him," says Moreno.
Moreno says, things changed so much in his late teens that she didn't recognize her son. "He didn't go to school. He was staying up all night saying a lot of bizarre things."
Moreno says, she knew something was wrong but he was undiagnosed.
What causes schizophrenia?
Research strongly suggests that schizophrenia involves problems with brain chemistry and structure and is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, as are many other medical illnesses. One in every 100 people will develop schizophrenia. About 75 percent of people with schizophrenia develop the disorder between the ages of 16 to 40; women typically have a later onset. It is uncommon to be diagnosed before 12 years of age or after the age of 40.
"He did have jobs but he couldn't keep them because they would let him go. I spoke to this one boss and they said that in an hours time - he went on 17 cigarette breaks. So he was starting to not stay with reality."
After another year of struggling with changed behavior, Daniel was arrested for domestic violence.
"As horrible as that was - it was the beginning of finding out that he had schizophrenia because it was through that process."
Daniel got his diagnosis through the court system when his mother and probation officer worked together to get him the help he needed. Daniel had schizophrenia.
Positive symptoms are also known as “psychotic” symptoms because the person has lost touch with reality in certain ways.
- Delusions - belief in things not real or true.
- Hallucinations- hearing or seeing things that are not real.
- Disorganized speech- inability to generate a logical sequence of ideas.
- Disorganized or catatonic behavior dramatic reduction or increase in movement.
Negative symptoms refer to a reduction of a capacity, such as motivation.
- Emotional flatness or lack of expressiveness.
- Inability to start and follow through with activities.
- Lack of pleasure or interest in life. Cognitive symptoms pertain to thinking processes.
- Trouble with prioritizing tasks, memory and organizing thoughts.
- Anosognosia (“lack of insight” ) or being unaware of having an illness.
"There was a lot of voices and thinking. Thank god he wasn't violent."
Moreno says that after learning about the mental illness - she learned how to talk with Daniel.
"He told me that he was in communication with certain people on TV - he and John Stewart were best friends. We were sitting here one night watching the Academy Awards and he said he was talking to people there, too. He would say that he can hear people turn their radio on across town.”
5 years after being diagnosed - Daniel was accepted into a 6-month program at the National Institute of Mental Health to be part of a study on Schizophrenia.
"I talked to him that morning and he sounded really good. They had him on a new medication and he seemed to be doing well. The doctors spoke with him that day and they said he seemed to be doing well, too.”
But Daniel walked outside to smoke a cigarette and never came back. Daniel took his own life.
Local Crisis Information Community-Wide Crisis Line
- (520) 622-6000 or 1-866-495-6735 Call 911
When calling 911 - state it is a mental health crisis for either yourself or family/ friend and ask that a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT ) officer be provided.
National Crisis Information National Crisis Line
- (800) 273-TALK (8255) American Foundation for Suicide
- (888) 333-AFSP (2377) (not a crisis line) www.afsp.org
"No one saw it coming. Even the best doctors in the world - but my son had schizophrenia. So we don't know what was going on in his mind."
Moreno says, If you know someone that is feeling like that, “talk to them don't be afraid to ask them if they're thinking of suicide. Asking them doesn't give them the idea. It gives them the permission to talk about ... That's what they need. Someone to talk to ... someone that cares about them and supports them."
For programs and services at the National Alliance on Metal illness Southern Arizona, click here.