Five by 8 – 4/9/10: The tortured souls among us

1) A great job of reporting by the Star Tribune leads the news this morning. It’s the story of the kid in Hastings who pulled a gun in school this week. It could’ve been a massive tragedy had he not loaded the wrong ammunition. This young man was adopted from Russia. The parents gave up their rights in August. because they knew he was violent. The story they tell of the orphanage is about as heartbreaking as it gets:


“What we noticed was that the orphanage staff was so standoffish toward him,” the mom said. “They weren’t hugging him. They were happy when he left. … He didn’t look back, and they didn’t look back.”

The parents tried to get help for their son, but they couldn’t get anyone in Dakota County to listen.

Lingering questions: Are international adoptions more likely to involve broken children? And what happens to them once it’s obvious they’re broken. Can they get help before they wave a gun in a classroom?

These situations are why the state of the mental health system matters to many people who, at first glance, are not directly affected by it.

Meanwhile, the story of tortured souls includes Phoebe Prince, the South Hadley, Mass., girl who killed herself, apparently because of bullying. The New York Times documents her last hours…


Ms. Prince, who entered South Hadley High last fall after moving from Ireland, was in emotional torment after weeks of being called an “Irish slut” and other names, and also became increasingly worried about the loudly voiced physical threats, students told investigators. She told a friend that she was “not a tough girl” and “would not know how to fight,” and at one point she asked friends to surround her as she walked in the hall.

That afternoon, girls in a car threw a bottle at her as she walked home from school. Not long after, she hanged herself in her bedroom. Here are the court documents in the case. They’re not pretty.

A mental health practitioner in Minnesota writes to us this morning:

I am a mental health practitioner providing in-home mental health rehabilitative services to low-income adults in the metro area. What seems to be missing from the majority of news stories regarding the GAMC compromise that was reached is the fact that reimbursement rates for providers were decreased so significantly that many providers will no longer be able to serve this population. My agency has already stopped seeing all clients covered under GAMC, which accounts for approximately 50 percent of our clients. Many therapists, psychiatrists, and other mental health providers have already stopped or will soon stop seeing these clients. Important information to include in news coverage of the GAMC changes. Rehabilitative services like the ones that my and many other agencies provide to adults with mental illness have as their goal to provide support, skills, and services that will decrease the amount of costly hospitalizations that the article refers to.

2) Health care may be the most covered story in years. More than half of the people surveyed in a recent poll say they’re paying closer attention to it than any other. Slate Magazine finds it shocking that another poll this week shows that as many people think the uninsured are getting along just fine, as thought that 11 years ago.

3) The Daily Show is good for laughs, but now it’s getting serious. A comedian and his writers have a better grasp of the nuclear weapons treaty signed yesterday than the people who fancy themselves presidential timber.

4) Let’s suppose you comment below but you use an anonymous name ( you should use your real name, just for the record). I find out you’re a local celebrity of some sort and I “out” you. Is that wrong? We’re about to find out. A judge in Cleveland sued the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper for exactly that, claiming breach of contract and invasion of privacy.

5) Minnesota missed out on Race to the Top education money from the federal government, setting off a squabble over whether the state lost out because of the quality of its teachers. Now, MPR’s Tom Weber has found that one problem may have been the quality of its application for the cash.

TODAY’S QUESTION

The United States and Russia have agreed to a new weapons treaty that if ratified will lead to modest cuts in nuclear arsenals. Should the world’s nuclear countries work toward eliminating such weapons?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

There will be a News Cut Quiz this afternoon . Start studying.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Common myths of tax time. Avoid paying too much for taxes this year by knowing the rules of the tax code and expanded opportunities for credits. Personal finance guru Sandra Block fills us in on common tax preparation misconceptions and mistakes.

Second hour: Retirement magical thinking. How much we save for retirement often depends less on what we know we’ll need and more what we can afford to set aside. Ruth Hayden has ideas for setting realistic retirement goals and ways to reach them.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Political commentators Todd Rapp and Maureen Shaver.

Second hour: Today marks the 145th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. The show will play a speech from historian Jay Winik, the author of “April, 1865: The Month That Saved America.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – It’s Science Friday. First hour: The average warning time for a tornado is about 15 minutes. But is that enough time to get your family out of harm’s way? Also: Many TV weathercasters don’t believe global warming is happening. Here’s what I wrote about this last week.

Second hour: Wind power. Will the plains states one day be supplying power to the coasts?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR’s Chris Roberts looks at Target Field accessibility with two rabid baseball fans who blog about accessibility issues.

In late 1944, a young air pilot named Gordon Fisher received orders to transport as many journalists to Buchenwald as possible to get the story out to the world. Fisher, now 89 and a Red Wing resident, recalls for MPR’s Elizabeth Baier what he saw when he arrived at the camp.

MPR’s Sanden Totten has learned that it’s spring in Minnesota, birds are singing, flowers are blooming and love is in the air. The feeling of romance this time of year is more than a seasonal cliché, it’s got some scientific backing. But just as the season can be short and temperamental, so can the new love that it brings.

MCA tests start Monday. Is the culture of testing set by President Bush with No Child Left Behind changing with Obama Barack in the White House? MPR’s Tom Weber will have the answer.

  • Jennifer
  • Tyler

    You got me, Bob. I’m actually Prince.

  • Al

    Shouldn’t those mentally ill Minnesotans trying to get services from GMAC know they can’t have their mental health crisis now? We’re tightening our belts around here and they need to tighten theirs too. Put off that crisis or handle it yourself! Otherwise the rest of us will have to pay taxes to help provide the services and we know that all taxes are bad and all government spending is waste.

  • Lily

    My heart goes out to the couple in Hasstings who tried to save their child. Unless you have parented a child with a major mental illness, one cannot imagine the struggles. Shame on Dakota County for not offering the child mental health treatment which could have been life saving. He needed the level of care offered by a residential treatment center, not a foster home! My God save us all when we care not for the most vulnerable, fragile, and potentially dangerous among us.

  • c

    In the case of Phoebe , I think something could have been done.

    But in the case of the Hastings kid it sounds like the parents went to great lengths to help the child. Although I understand that the parents may have been afraid to keep him home with them, it saddens me to read that he will be put in an group home.

    I hope for the best case scenario where he is placed with the best match of counseling in mental health for his problem. I would be happy in paying taxes for this type of social service. In this world of instant gratification, superior technology, one would think that there would be someone who could help him with these kinds of problems.

    @Tyler, are you saying that you are being bullied?