Richard P. was distraught. After arguing with his former wife, he checked into a motel, looped a belt around his neck and tried his best to take his own life.
The belt broke.
So Richard entered the labyrinth of Georgia’s mental health system. On June 5, hours after Richard’s suicide attempt, an emergency room doctor committed him to a state psychiatric hospital. He was, as a counselor said, “a suicidal, wanting-to-die patient.”
But no beds were available in the state hospital that day. Or the next day. Or the day after that. It wasn’t until June 8 — 82 hours after Richard’s commitment — that a crisis unit in Cobb County accepted him.