Catch Us If You Can

Steve Chesser went to MHMRA for help. Sent home from its emergency clinic without medicine or therapy, he shot his and killed himself. Diagnosis: A mental health care system in free fall.

A few days later Steve called his mother, who remembers that he sounded happy. "He said, "Mom, I'm going to do what you said,' " Betty recalls. " "I'm going to get on with my life.' "

The next day, Steve shot Maria, then killed himself.

Steve's ashes are in a nondescript white box in the front room of his mother's house. He deserves better, Betty admits, but she didn't have enough money for an urn, let alone a proper burial.

Betty  Chesser still misses her son, Steve.
Deron Neblett
Betty Chesser still misses her son, Steve.

After Steve's death, Betty called MHMRA, looking for answers. Why hadn't they put her son in the hospital or at least given him some medication? If the psychiatrist at NPC thought Steve needed counseling, why was he allowed to leave the center without talking to a therapist, or at least getting an appointment to see one at another time? Where else was he supposed to go to get the help he needed?

"They told me they were sorry," she says.

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