Heath Otto, a 24-year-old man from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, admitted to killing his mother and nephew in April 2019. He openly confessed the crime to the police, claiming that his mother was not really his mother and that they had abducted him. In Otto’s mind, he was setting himself free.
Otto was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It is a condition that only 1.2 percent of Americans experience. That statistic is not too startling. What is startling are the broader statistics on mental health in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five Americans experiences some form of mental illness.
Otto’s story is not too unusual, though his particular mental disease may be. Otto experimented with steroids and heavy drinking after he was discharged from the Marines. As he continued steroid use and drank heavily, his behavior became more erratic. There was cause for concern on more than one occasion and, on more than one occasion, his mother requested Otto be detained in a mental health facility and given appropriate treatment. Never were any of the requests heeded, as Otto did not pose a threat to himself or others. In order for Otto to be detained, State law required proof of immediate threat be provided. Otto remained free, his condition ultimately deteriorating until he committed the heinous crime of murdering his mother and nephew.[Read more…] about The Current State of the American Mental Health Service