The National Alliance on Mental Illness's ‘Ending the Silence’ program teaches high school students and staff about early warning signs of mental health conditions.
Show me a psychotic child and I will write you a tragedy.
"Your boy is sick," the fire chief said. "And very dangerous." No one had ever laughed when shown photos of burned bodies.
Teachers, however, praised the unkempt loner who rode a skateboard, wore tie-dyed jeans, and excelled in mathematics, philosophy, and foreign languages.
During recess, he danced alone and feasted on cotton candy pulled from the sky. In class, he argued that the first sign of knowledge was a desire to die. On the way home, he uprooted flowers, kicked in fences, and slashed tires.
Theo Karantsalis poses with his father, Demos, and sister, Irene, at an Oakland Greek festival, in 1974, shortly before his first suicide attempt. (Photo: Courtesy of Karantsalis family)
When questioned by police, the soft-spoken kid who reeked of urine and refused to bathe, pointed to Plato's cave.
Outside, shadows mocked the stoic science fair finalist who set fires, made bombs, and kept in his locker a rotting goat's head.
Looking out from a fishbowl, all appeared as they were not, and he wanted off an illusory world that spun truth into vapor.
And nothing, not even time, could heal his broken soul.
Theo Karantsalis, a Miami writer and mental health advocate, reflects on his first suicide attempt at age 12. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Those in crisis should contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Visit also, namimiami.org/ending-the-silence.