11 Investigates: Teen Commits Suicide Hours After Hospital Visit

By: Rick Montanez Email
By: Rick Montanez Email

"I'm sorry this happened, I'm sorry somebody let you down and you had to die."

It's the news no parent ever wants to receive. But, on Mother’s Day morning, Annette Storey was told her son committed suicide.

Now, this mother of four, is left wondering if more could have been done to save her son. Eighteen-year-old Bretton Storey killed himself just hours after he was released from Memorial Hospital in May. Bretton went to the hospital on his own, because he was feeling suicidal, according to medical records.

"Brett was a very happy child,” Annette said. “He was always the funny guy, he always made everybody laugh."

Over the years Bretton's bright and happy childhood turned dark as he fell into a depression. With threats of suicide, Bretton had a history of seeking treatment. He had been placed on a 72-hour suicide hold at St. Francis Hospital in 2009. Annette told 11 News, Bretton also spent a week receiving treatment at Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.

On the evening of May 8th, 2010, Bretton arrived at the emergency room at Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs. "He was treated in the ER because he was suicidal,” Annette said. “He went in on his own because he was suicidal, and [the hospital] released him."

According to hospital records 11 News obtained from the Storey family, Bretton did show up on his own. A registered nurse noted, in the paperwork, an "intent to harm self was verbalized" by the patient. The paperwork goes on to show Bretton said he had not been sleeping well and he had been cutting his wrists.

"I believe that if somebody goes in for help and they say they're going to hurt themselves, then they should get help," said Annette.

Here’s where that late night hospital visit gets a little fuzzy, according to the hospital records, a few hours after the first evaluation Bretton was evaluated again only this time his story seemed to change.

At 11:00 p.m. on May 8th, a physician wrote "when I talk to him, he denies any suicidal ideation," according to the paperwork.

Bretton was then cleared medically and a mental health evaluator was called in. The evaluator was from a private company, which now goes by the name of Aspen Pointe.

Just before 2:30 a.m., six hours after Bretton threatened to take his own life, the evaluator sent him home. "He was released from the hospital and he came straight to the park and committed suicide," Bretton’s mom said.

At 6:30 the next morning, his body was found in Boulder Park, which is just across the street from the hospital.

On May 9th, Mother's Day morning, Annette found out that Bretton took his own life. "I started screaming right way," she said. "They take a piece of you when they go, a large piece of you."

Annette contacted 11 News because she said hers is a pain no one else should have to deal with.

Now, she's asking questions about what happened that night, about how Memorial, and other hospitals, help patients like Bretton.

11 News found that legally, hospitals in Colorado have to answer three questions before they can keep a patient on a 72-hour psychological hold.
They are: Is the patient a danger to himself? Is the patient a danger to others? Is the patient mentally sound enough to release?

In Bretton's case, even though he told doctors a few hours later he was not suicidal, Annette wishes Bretton’s original threat would have been reason enough to keep him. "He would have been safe if he had been put into a hold," she said. Annette also feels a family member should be contacted, even when the patient is over 18.

Right now, Colorado law doesn't allow that, for patient privacy reasons.

11 News contacted Memorial Hospital to ask what exactly happened the night of Bretton’s visit. The hospital told 11 News because of privacy laws no one at the hospital can talk to us about Bretton's visit.

This statement was released to 11 News: "We extend our sincere condolences to the family. We recognize that suicide and broader behavioral health issues are a significant concern in our community, and we will continue our commitment to work with others to help address it."

This does little to comfort Annette and her family. At their home in Calhan, Annette works in her garden as a way to deal with the grief. The family planted a tree in memory of Bretton. "A red-headed tree, for my red-headed baby," Annette sobbed.

"I'm learning how to live myself, I don't know how to live without my child," she said.

Annette told 11 News she often talks to Bretton. She said she has one recurring thought, "I'm sorry this happened, I'm sorry somebody let you down and you had to die."

Annette is left wondering what more can be done to keep this from happening again.

The next step for the family is to find an attorney to pour over the paperwork from the hospital to see if something went wrong.

The job of the mental health evaluators is a tough one, according to mental health evaluators 11 News contacted.

Memorial Hospital also released this statement about the requirements: "If the emergency department physician determines that the patient appears to pose an imminent danger to himself or herself, efforts will be immediately undertaken to locate a psychiatric facility that will accept the patient."

For more information on suicide prevention click the links below.

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