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The invisible monsoon: Crisis center touted as mental health diversion from jail, emergency room

TRAVERSE CITY — Toni Stanfield and her son Karl used to call bipolar disorder an invisible monsoon that leaves families in terrifying and unsafe situations.

The disease is fatal, said Stanfield, something she knows firsthand after Karl’s suicide two years ago.

“It’s very sad because here I am a psychologist,” Stanfield said. “I work with people with mental illness and I could not help my son.”

Karl, who was 37 when he died, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 15 years earlier and in that time had been hospitalized nine times and incarcerated five times, once for a full year. That made her hesitant to call 911 when he had a mental health crisis, knowing the cops would come, Karl would put up a fight and then would end up in jail for resisting arrest.

It’s a hesitancy she knows many families share.


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