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USA federal prisoner commits suicide after forced psychiatric drugs

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Mike Heston was a member of MindFreedom who wrote many times to the MFI office saying he is a prisoner who is experiencing involuntary psychiatric drug injections in the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. MindFreedom issued a human rights alert on his behalf. Mr. Heston's family has informed MindFreedom's office that he has committed suicide. Both the family and MindFreedom call for an investigation. Update: A Rochester newspaper published a news story on this topic.

USA federal prisoner commits suicide after forced psychiatric drugs

How many prisoners feel tortured by forced psychiatric drug injections in USA federal mental health facilities?

16 February 2008 Update:

The main newspaper in Rochester, Minnesota has published an article about MindFreedom's call for an investigation of the death of MFI member Michael Heston, to read the article click here.


8 February 2008 Update:

Michael Heston sent many neatly printed letters in 2007 to the MindFreedom office about how he felt tortured by forced psychiatric drug injections in a federal mental health facility in Rochester, Minnesota.

On International Human Rights, 10 December 2007, MindFreedom International issued an alert via web and e-mail alert system. You may read a copy of the original alert at the very bottom of this update.

Mr. Heston committed suicide in January 2008. MindFreedom joins the Heston family in demanding an investigation of his death, and of the use of forced psychiatric drug injections in USA federal facilities.


ACTION YOU CAN TAKE:


Please use these convenient web contact pages to send a civil message to the two USA Senators for Minnesota  requesting an investigation of the death of Michael Heston, and of forced psychiatric drug injections in federal facilities.

Senator Norm Coleman contact page:

http://coleman.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm

Senator Amy Klobuchar contact page:

http://klobuchar.senate.gov/contactamy.cfm


Chronology based on reports from family and prison authorities:

  • 11 December 1993: The Federal Bureau of Prisons has confirmed with MindFreedom that Michael Heston was committed on that date for sending a threatening letter. He remained committed until his death.
  • 10 December 2007: After receiving letters from Mr. Heston about his forced psychiatric drug injections, MindFreedom International issued a human rights alert via web and e-mail alert system. Members contacted elected officials.
  • 21 January 2008: That Monday night he phoned his family about four or five times pleading for help. He said he was scheduled for another forced psychiatric drug injection the next day.
  • 22 January 2008: At 1:30 am early Tuesday morning, Mr. Heston attempts suicide by hanging himself and is apparently incapacitated. He is moved to Mayo Clinic for care. The family flies in.
  • 24 January 2008: The family arrives and agrees to remove life support. Michael Heston dies at 1:17 pm.
  • 4 February 2008: Searching the web for Michael Heston's name, the family discovers MindFreedom had issued a human rights alert in 2007, and contacts MindFreedom. The family and MindFreedom both call for an investigation.
  • 6 February 2008: After contacting the institution, MindFreedom receives an e-mail from Dennis Bitz of the federal Bureau of Prisons saying "the incident will be investigated." (A copy of the letter is later in this update.)
  • 16 February 2008: Rochester's main newspaper publishes a news story about MindFreedom's call for an investigation of the death of their member Michael Preston, to read the article click here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are some excerpts from letters Mike Heston wrote to the MindFreedom office for several months. They are among his final written words that MindFreedom received in the days and weeks before he committed suicide:

~~~~~~~~~~~~


Written statements from Michael Heston to MindFreedom:


Please help me. Medicine is destroying me. They've been sticking me with a needle since April. They won't let me off medicine. I do not want it . It is making me very nervous and sick.

They won't let me go home. The doctors all say terrible things about me. My hips are getting sore from where that big harpoon of a needle landed with 50m. of that horrible substance goes in.

...

I do not want these chemicals in my blood. If I have to say it a million times until it ends, I am being tortured! I do not use drugs, thank you. Especially psychotropics which are like poison to me. It's bad enough I'm committed. Why must I be tormented on drugs?

What on earth am I going to do? They've been sticking me in the ass since I got here in April. There is no end to it in sight. M ass is getting awfully sore. Do you know how humiliating it is to have to bend over to take a needle full of poison. It is my blood. I do not want their medicine. Help me somebody.

There is a soul inside of me that yearns to be free of medicine. My hips are sore already. The needle is crippling me. Somebody help me. I'm scared. I'm scared of the needle. It's a big harpoon. It has me terrorized because I feel so sick after. I can only exist in my natural state of being. I am tired of being a slave to  doctor.

Life is no fun when being tortured and terrorized. Please help me. They have no right to shoot me. I want my spirit back. That's all I want is my spirit back. The drugs make me nervous and paranoid. I'm fidgety and antsy from the medicine. God made me a certain way and that's how I want to stay. I'm being shot down like a dog.

There is something wrong with the very soul inside of me because of the shot. I don't get any relief, just another shot every two weeks. My soul is so impeded from it, I am enveloped in gloom and misery all the time. My situation is hopeless. I beg you to call Dr. Hart for me. Have her end this torture. I wallow in despair. I cry out in anguish that I'm being tortured and no one offers to help. Torture of the spirit within should be outlawed.

...

I've been crying my eyes out all day. I'm in solitary being forced injected. The medicine makes my spirit sick and tortures the very soul within me. I'm tormented, in mental agony nearly all the time.

...

I can't believe I am being tortured and no one is doing anything about it. Please, in the name of all decency, you've got to help me. O help me - torture - torture. Please stop drugging me. Please. Explain to doctor Hart who you represent and why human rights are important. Naturally she's going to say the old 'he needs it.' I need to be tortured. C'mon give me a break. I beg you. I can't take it. I'm cracking up, please help me. They're raping me Tuesday. My spirit is already very sick. I need relief. Stop the torture. I'm terrified of that needle. I'm being terrorized and tortured.

 Please help me. I beg you. I'm hurting. 

...

I'm sure you've heard it all before, but I am being tortured. Force injected in solitary. Medicine makes my spirit sick and torments the very soul within me. As well my legs shake and my feet are all antsy. This bodily torture is intolerable. The rape, and not having determination about what goes into my very blood is having extreme psychological effect of me. The forced Risperdol injections are causing my body to deteriorate and I am in mental agony nearly all the time.

...

The forced injection that Dr. Hart subjects me to causes me intra-muscular nerve disorder. I am being tortured from this shot and she says I need it. Every two weeks they stick me in the hips with a big harpoon of vile toxic poison. Jan 8, Jan 22, Feb 5, Feb 19, MArch 4, March 18, April 1, April 15, April 29, May 13, May 27, June 10, June 24, July 7, July 21, Aug 4, Aug 18, et cetera. Painful chemical injections are cruel and unusual punishment. I am not even mentally ill. All I see is torture and more torture and myself as a pin cushion. Please God end this horrible nightmare. I'm terrified of that needle. I'm being tortured and terrorized. I am crying torture, my body shakes. My eyeballs roll up in my head. My jaws lock. Please somebody help me. Dr. Hart is the one woman who holds absolute power and authority. All I ask out of life is to be in my natural frame of mind. They could commit me 100 years still all I want is to not have those chemicals in my blood playing havoc on my system.

- end -


~~~~~~~~~~~~

Exchange of letters between MindFreedom and federal officials following report of Michael Heston's death:



    From:       dbitz@bop.gov
    Date:     February 6, 2008 6:32:06 AM PST
    Subject:     Re: request for emergency investigation
    To:       oaks@mindfreedom.org

Mr. Oaks,

Thank you for sending your message, which was referred to me for a reply.  The incident will be investigated.  Mr. Heston was initially confined in the federal prison system after he was convicted of mailing a  threatening communication in which he threatening to kill a woman by shredding her body through machinery.  He was sentenced to a 18 month term of imprisonment for that crime. 

Prior to the expiration of the above term of imprisonment, he was committed as a mentally ill and dangerous individual under federal statute 18 U.S.C. Section 4246.  That statute allows the Attorney General to indefinitely confine an individual who suffers from a mental disease and defect and his release would pose a substantial risk of danger to others.  Mr. Heston was committed on December 11, 1993, and he remained committed under the above statute until his death.

Sincerely,

Dennis Bitz
2/6/08

~~~~~~~~

David Oaks <oaks@mindfreedom.org> 2/5/2008 1:14 PM >>>

urgent

Please direct this to the attention of the director of Federal 
Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

We request an immediate investigation of the death of your prisoner 
MICHAEL HESTON, and the use of involuntary psychiatric drug 
injections in your facilities. These injections can be extremely 
traumatizing, overwhelming and harmful. We understand your facility 
-- through a DR. HART -- routinely used this on Mr. Heston, and we 
have several of his complaints at our human rights office.

While you may claim confidentiality about Mr. Heston, you certainly 
can speak publicly about important policy issues such as your 
facilities use of routine involuntary psychiatric drug injections of 
neuroleptics (also known as antipsychotics).

We request an immediate response.

BELOW are urgent communications we have sent to both USA Senators and 
the Governor of Minnesota.

David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Senator,

We just received information from his family that MICHAEL HESTON 
committed suicide. He was a prisoner in a federal facility -- Federal 
Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota. His doctor was Dr. Hart.

Our human rights organization received multiple, crystal clear 
letters from Mr. Heston for the past few months about how he felt 
tortured by extremely powerful injections of the controversial 
"neuroleptic" psychiatric drugs (also known as antipsychotics).

We do know that involuntary injections of these drugs can have 
overwhelming physical and mental effects, that can indeed be 
overwhelmingly traumatizing.

We request an emergency investigation into the claims by Mr. Heston 
that these forced psychiatric drug injections were torture, and what 
role they may have played in his suicide.

We also request an investigation of the use of forced psychiatric 
neuroleptic (antipsychotic) injections of individuals in the federal 
correctional system.

Sincerely,

David W. Oaks, Executive Director
MindFreedom International

~~~~~~~~~~~~

ADDITION ACTION YOU MAY TAKE:

You may also directly contact the federal facility where Mr. Heston committed suicide with a civil message via e-mail, their contact info is here:

http://www.bop.gov/DataSource/execute/dsFacilityAddressLoc?start=y&facilityCode=rch

~~~~~~~~~~~~


10 December 2007 Original [Modified] Alert:

Here are some excerpts from letters from Mike Heston to the MindFreedom office:


~~~~~~~~

"Dr. Hart won't let me out of the hole unless I take pills... it only makes me sicker and even more nervous. My nerves are shot as I have claustrophobia and need I tell you how I feel right now: my heart is racing."

"I live in mortal fear, the needle has me terrified, they just keep sticking me every two weeks and I feel like death."

"Please someone end this torture. I am tormented, I am being tortured and terrorized (dreaded fear of that needle). Please let me out of here. Someone help me, end this injection."

"I have to have say over what goes into my body or life itself is a big sham. Help me. Forced psychiatry has destroyed me."

Mike continues to hold on:

"You'd think after so many years of these horrible treatments it would do me under for good but the heart keeps on ticking."

~~~~~~~~~~

ACTION:


Please contact the Minnesota elected officials, and ask for an investigation of Mike Heston's allegations. Let them know that forced drugging is absolutely unacceptable.

SAMPLE MESSAGE


"Please investigate allegations of human rights violations against Mike Heston who is a prisoner at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Mr. Heston states that he is being forcibly injected with powerful and hazardous psychiatric drugs. I oppose the forced psychiatric drugging of any citizen."

~~~~~~~~~~

Because this is a USA federal facility, please contact the two elected US Senators from Minnesota:

Senator Norm Coleman contact page:

http://coleman.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm

Senator Amy Klobuchar contact page:

http://klobuchar.senate.gov/contactamy.cfm


While the office of the Governor of Minnesota argues that the matter is a federal and note state matter, the Governor ought to care about what happens in their own state. You can use this contact page to reach the Governor of Minnesota:


http://www.governor.state.mn.us/contacts/Forms/askthegovernor/index.htm

Or contact the Governor at:

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty
Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

  • Telephone: (651) 296-3391
  • Toll Free:    (800) 657-3717
  • Facsimile:   (651) 296-2089
  • E-mail:        tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us


~~~~~~~~~~

Additional action:


You can write to Mike Heston to let him know he is being heard, here:

Michael Heston
Reg. No. 06525-067
Federal Medical Center
PO BOX 4000
Rochester, MN 55903

Disclaimers: This is a forwarded alert, this is all the information we have, this is not necessarily an endorsement of all the information in the alert as accurate, feel free to forward.


~~~~~~~~~~~~

A letter from Michael Heston's mother, Helen Heston, to David Oaks and MindFreedom:


Dear David,

    Thank you very much for sending me a copy of MindFreedom. It's very difficult for me to accept Michael's death. I keep waiting each day for his phone call and cannot believe that call will never come.

    I know the work you're doing will benefit many others who have similar problems. It's hard to believe that drugs can be forced into someone's body.

    I remember one of Michael's letters that said, "I would settle for 100 years in prison, if it meant no drugs."

    Started to sort Michael's letters, papers, etc. When I can get all of these I would like to send some to you.

    I was told by many of Michael's doctors that he was very bright. I knew this,  but I also knew that the drugs that he was forced to take were destroying his mind and health, step by step.

    Again, David, thank you. Your support is greatly appreciated.

        Sincerely,

            Helen Heston

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Matt Morrissey

Matt Morrissey is on the MFI Choice in Mental Health Campaign Committee. Matt directs the adult day program at Full Spectrum Progressive Mental Health, which is a nonprofit center in San Francisco that offers voluntary programs for adults and adolescents in severe emotional distress. Full Spectrum is a Sponsor Group in MFI. Matt is shown here speaking at an MFI co-sponsored protest in front of the American Psychiatric Association. (Photo by Tom Olin)
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