Michael's Story

Avi Israel speaks at Fed Up RallyHello, my name is Avi Israel. I am going to tell you how 5 minutes and 47 seconds changed my life forever. This is my son, Michael David Israel. Michael can't be here today because Michael committed suicide on June 4th of this year (2011). Michael took his life, in our home, less than 20 feet away from my wife and I. I lost my son because of a flawed health care system in this state. Michael was an extremely outgoing bright kid, who excelled in school, and was a very artistically talented person who was a pleasure to be around. Michael should have been a 2012 graduate from this illustrious institution.

At the age of 12, Michael was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Which he fought vigorously for the last 8 years of his life. When his Crohn's could not be controlled by traditional medicines and multiple surgeries, some of his doctors decided to start prescribing narcotic pain medication and mood altering drugs. This is where the current health system started to fail Michael. And it's failing countless others today. A system which allowed my son to be addicted to narcotic pain killers and psychtroropic drugs that were prescribed to him by several different doctors without anyone doctor checking what the other doctor was prescribing. Not only that, neither Michael, or us his parents, were ever informed or made aware that these drugs were synthetic heroin, and of the severe consequences of these drugs. Another failure of the system. Michael had a medically and socially sanctioned drug addiction.

I'm not here to point fingers at any one profession; I'm here to point fingers at a system which allowed this 20 year old to get to a point where the only way out of misery was to shoot himself in the head. In January 2011, Michael admitted to us, his parents, that he was having control issues with the pain medication. We informed his physicians of the addiction and were told that at this time, Michael needed the pain medication due to his illness and assured us that the medications would be monitored. In February 2011, with no other alternative his physicians performed an ileostomy. Again while Michael was in the hospital, we notified his doctors of Michael's addiction problem. They assured again that Michael's problem will be taken care of before he leaves the hospital. After a 30-day hospital stay, Michael was discharged with 3 prescriptions for Hydrocodone. That was their answer to the problem. Again a failure.

In April 2011, Michael knew he was in deep distress and was desperate for help, his addiction was taking over him and he did not like the person he was becoming. He wrote about it in his journal. Michael was admitted to a detox facility, and after a week stay, was released with an Opioid Counselor assigned to him for outpatient therapy.