Germany, healthcare, law, mental health, YouTube

“Du bist nicht allein…” There’s always someone helpful out there…

Last night, after Bill left for his TDY to Bavaria, I was left watching YouTube videos. Because I felt a cold coming on, and my stomach was bugging me, I decided to eat some bland leftovers and drink sparkling water. Then, once it got respectably late, I figured I’d go to bed.

Because of the nature of the videos I ended up watching, my mind started wandering to dark places. When you watch a lot of cop videos, you see people in varying states of mental, emotional, and physical distress. Some cops are really good at helping people in crisis. They treat people with basic respect and decency. Some are even kind and empathic. Other cops are rude, dismissive, or just plain mean.

I watched one video last night that I had seen before. It involved a police officer named John Kovach, Jr. from Lorain, Ohio, whose 18 year old daughter, Katlyn, was dating a guy he didn’t like. Katlyn’s boyfriend, at least circa spring 2018, was Makai Coleman. Because her dad didn’t want his daughter dating Coleman, and Katlyn was by then a legal adult, she decided to leave the family home and stay with friends. She refused to speak to her dad, which was her legal right.

Below is the video of the subsequent confrontation that got John Kovach, Jr. fired from his long held job with the Lorain Police Department. I’m sure it also didn’t do much for his relationship with his daughter, at least in 2018. I don’t know if they’ve mended fences since then.

A serious abuse of power…

One of the many troubling things Kovach said as he started to arrest Coleman, for no apparent reason, is that he’d be “making shit up” about Coleman’s “charges” as they headed to jail. But then, once he saw his daughter hiding in the back of Coleman’s car, John Kovach, Jr. decided to turn Coleman loose and force Katlyn into his police car. Clearly, it was inappropriate, as Katlyn is his daughter, and he’s not exactly objective about this situation.

But as John Kovach, Jr. was making his adult daughter get in the back of the squad car, he justified “arresting” Katlyn, because he claimed she was “suicidal”. He said she’d made a comment indicating suicidal ideation the day prior. Katlyn, who was by then screaming and crying, reminded him that he wasn’t with her the day prior, as she had rightly escaped his home to be with more rational people.

According to an article by the Washington Post:

Kovach said that when he spoke with his daughter on the phone, she said, “If I can’t be with him, I don’t want to be here anymore.” He told investigators that he believed his daughter was threatening suicide.

Kovach said he intended to take Katlyn to the hospital for a “psychiatric evaluation”, since she was “suicidal”… which she obviously wasn’t. He just wanted to exert control over her. There were other claims made about how Kovach had threatened to make Makai Coleman’s life difficult. The young man had wanted to join the military, and Kovach said he’d be talking to the lad’s recruiter and otherwise abuse his authority to threaten and harass Coleman.

The way Kovach behaved on that day in 2018, though, was totally beyond the pale. Soon, he’d gone from overprotective father to abusive cop. It was absolutely right that he was fired from his job for behaving in such an unhinged way. Kovach also harassed Coleman’s sister and mother, threatening them with jail and fines for trying to intervene. Meanwhile, Katlyn was screaming and crying, while her father went into creepy control freak mode, barking at her to “knock it off.” I don’t know if he actually took her to the hospital, but it seems like it would have been a real waste of time and resources on many levels.

After I watched that video, I started thinking about life in Germany, wondering if the Kovach family drama might ever happen here. Then I started Googling. I already noticed on YouTube, watching any video that mentions the word “suicide” prompts a notice in German– “Du bist nicht allein…” (you are not alone). Yeah, you can say that again. Big brother is always watching!

What I see when I search for anything with the word “suicide” in it. YouTube includes an explanation here.

I’m kidding, kinda. I mean, it’s good that they have resources for dealing with people who are mentally or emotionally shaky. The YouTube prompt was a link to a page where there are volunteers standing by, willing to talk to someone who feels alone, either by phone or chat. That’s a good thing… although it does kind of lead one to wonder why someone would do that in their free time. I know there are caring and kind people out there who do it because they genuinely want to help people. Those people save lives. But then there are also people like Ted Bundy, who answered suicide hotlines for awhile before he became a notorious serial killer. Ted Bundy reportedly did save some people from offing themselves. He even worked on the suicide hotline with the late true crime author, Ann Rule, who later wrote an excellent book about him. She verified that he ended some lives, but he also saved some.

One thing I do think is enlightened about the German hotlines is that they don’t just address the suicidal. They have nine hotlines that are designed to address a host of issues, everything from abuse to supporting others who need help. They even have a dedicated help line for Muslims.

I got more curious about this topic as the evening wore on… remember I did study this stuff in school, sorta. So I dug a little deeper, and soon found myself on Toytown Germany (a discussion site for English speakers in Germany). In 2006, someone had posted about a someone they knew who had attempted suicide. The person went to an emergency room, was treated for a couple of days, then released. The original poster was shocked, but other people soon chimed in on the subject– some of whom were shockingly insensitive. One person said that they knew someone who had spiked his vodka with dishwasher tablets. The guy was similarly treated and released. The Americans on the forum were saying that in the United States, the person would get a 72 hour hold at least.

Some people were making ignorant comments about suicide and suicidal threats. Realizing that the thread was started in 2006, I realized that things have only gotten worse since then. People are pretty jaded these days. Then someone mentioned that an attempt would probably warrant a “stay at Haar”. That made me curious, so I went searching for information on that.

I discovered that Haar is a psychiatric clinic near Munich, and it gets pretty horrible reviews on Google. I’m sure there are other psych hospitals in Germany. Maybe some of them are helpful… but then, you have to consider the source of such reviews. They’re typically written by people who are in crisis and the crisis isn’t necessarily solved by a stay in a hospital. In some ways, it may get even worse after medical and psychiatric “help”, especially if one ends up with a doctor who is an insensitive asshole or something. On the other hand, I realize that it’s not easy for providers, either. Mentally ill people can be very challenging to deal with, especially when they are non-compliant or apathetic. Mental health providers are human, too… and sometimes, that kind of work can lead to burnout.

Actually, watching YouTube videos of American cops and paramedics is a pretty good study in burnout. I’m sure a lot of people initially decide to go into police work or emergency services because they are kind and caring, and just want to help. Some people want to feel useful or powerful… or they want to make a difference somehow. Some of those folks never tire of the work or become insensitive or impatient.

On the other hand, some people do that work simply because it’s a job and there’s always a need. I think of the man who worked as an emergency medical technician in Brooklyn, New York and hit my friend, Matt, with a borrowed Rolls Royce. Matt died of his injuries, and the so-called paramedic never even stopped to render the most basic of aid. He just let him die, while he sped off in the luxury car. This man was an EMT, but he didn’t care about Matt. Now he’s in jail, but he’ll be out before Christmas. Matt, on the other hand, is gone forever.

That’s another things I’ve noticed, too… A lot of people, at least in the United States, act like total barbarians when they get arrested. Some of them do go to prison for a long time. Others, in spite of being totally awful, get their charges dropped or a slap on the wrist. It seems to me that involvement with the police is kind of the same as involvement with hospitals. You never know what you’re going to end up paying in the long run. It depends on who you are, what your coverage is, and which state you’re in when the event happens. You can go to an emergency department and get charged varying amounts, since there’s no regulation of fees. And you can get arrested and end up with any number of penalties, depending on the cop or the jurisdiction… or, again… who you are.

Anyway… this was just one of the darker rabbit holes I’ve been down. Unfortunately, I’m in kind of a bad mood today. I caught a cold somewhere over the weekend, plus my stomach hurts. I’m sitting here with a runny nose, scratchy throat, and a dull ache in my gut, wondering if I may need to call for help myself, at some point. But my guess is that I’ll just be grouchy and thirsty, as I always am when I catch a cold. I think I’ll close today’s post and get on with the day, so I can go back to bed. I’ve got to walk Noyzi and practice guitar before it’ll be time to fall back down the emergency services abyss and see what else I can dig up to discuss. 😉


This morning’s OUTRAGEOUS dream…

This morning’s dream was a doozy, and it’s full of profanity and other inappropriate stuff. Proceed with caution.

I have to write this down right now, before I forget it. I had an epic dream this morning. I don’t think it was a happy dream, per se. It was just outrageous, and perhaps a bit funny. Here goes.

Bill and I were staying in a really fancy hotel in Munich. I had booked us in a lovely room that had some kind of special bath arrangement. The huge bed was covered with fluffy white duvets and big pillows. The one catch was that I had to allow other guests to use the bathroom. It had some kind of really amazing bathing facility, and our room was the only one in the hotel with it available. For some reason, I was okay with this. We went up to the room and marveled at how beautiful it was. But we didn’t have long to enjoy it, due to the requirement that we let others use the bathroom.

Sure enough, there was soon a knock at the door, and I opened it to find a young couple standing there. They said they wanted to use the awesome bath facilities, so I stepped aside and let them in. I remember, I was uncharacteristically chill about this. I didn’t have the look pictured below on my face. That’s surprising, since I don’t like it when strange people ring my bell and I’m not the best at sharing… unless it’s salacious jokes or overly personal stories.

Yes, that’s me in sixth grade. Some photographer decided to share it in the yearbook. I see I’m wearing one of AAFES’ best shirts with hearts and rainbows and shit. I make this face all the time, even 36 years later.

So anyway, the couple came into the room, and prepared to use the special bath. Then, there was another knock. This time, it was an acquaintance and her husband. I actually met this person in Stuttgart– it’s someone I know offline and outside of my dreams. The other couple… well, at first I thought they were strangers, but now I realize that I knew them offline, too. I think they were the couple that lived in our last house before we did. I don’t remember what he looked like in the dream, but she was tall and had long brown hair. She was kind of athletic and pretty, and seemed mostly pleasant at first.

I let my Stuttgart friend into the bedroom, thinking she was there to use the bath, too. I thought I’d just let them wait while the other couple did their business. When I went back to check on the other couple, I found that they had written something on the wall, then blotted it out in great jagged strokes of bright green paint. It was all over the wall. They had scratched out what they’d written, but upon reading carefully, it looked like one of those public declarations of love one finds carved or written on trees or painted in graffiti. “So and so” loves “so and so”… you get the gist. They’d carved that on the hotel room wall for some inexplicable reason, then wiped it out with the paint. It was right there in bold relief. I panicked, and realized that the hotel staff would think we did it, so I told Bill he needed to go tell the clerk at the front desk so we wouldn’t get blamed and charged for it.

I went back into the bedroom and found my acquaintance and her husband on my side of the bed, having very loud, energetic sex. They were really going at it. I became furious and said, “Hey, would you two mind not fucking each other on my side of the bed!?” I had visions of jism all over the sheets. Seriously, that thought crossed my mind in my dream.

They basically ignored me and continued their hyperactive fuckfest, so I stormed out of the room, intent on finding breakfast. It didn’t occur to me that it would be strange to be looking for breakfast right after checking into the hotel. And just as an aside, it’s odd that this person would be doing this. She doesn’t strike me as the type to have sex in someone else’s hotel room bed, messing up the sheets. But what can I say? It was a dream, and an odd one at that.

I got down to the lobby, which was this huge, expansive, luxurious place. There was this exclusive cafe there, that looked really nice and was famous and expensive, but actually served kind of average food. Then there was the hotel restaurant, which was where I was headed. I couldn’t find Bill, and I became more and more angry. I bumped into people, including three older, heavyset Asian women who spoke different languages. I didn’t understand what they were saying, and that was annoying to me. All three of the women were from the Far East. I figured one of them was Chinese and maybe the other two were from Japan, but I couldn’t tell by looking at them or hearing them speak. They just didn’t appear to be from western Asia.

I finally spotted Bill and we headed into the dining room. All of a sudden, I noticed a heavyset, dark haired, middle-aged woman with a small child, maybe about a year old. The child appeared to be a boy. He had short dark hair, olive skin, and was kind of walking, but he was still very little. As we were trying to get to our table, the child suddenly took a massive dump right in front of me. I was watching the loose balls of shit coming out of the baby’s ass, and the mother was doing nothing about it but laughing. As the copious shit flowed from the baby onto the carpet, it looked like Swedish meatballs and stank to high heaven. Somehow I got some of it on my hands, even though I hadn’t even touched the child.

I rushed out of the restaurant to find a bathroom, so I could get cleaned up. It was at about this point that I woke up. I remember thinking that Munich is a wonderful city and the hotel was beautiful, yet I was having all of these extremely weird and gross mishaps that weren’t really my fault. If I think about it, it’s not unlike our time in Stuttgart, which was overall great, but still fraught with problems. Some of the problems were my fault. Others were definitely not, but I still got blamed for them. Also… I was much too trusting. Yeah… I would say this morning’s dream, as weird and outrageous as it was, also conveyed some valuable lessons. It doesn’t always pay to be too nice, too trusting, or too tolerant. Otherwise, you end up with messy sheets, damaged walls, and all kinds of other stinky shit.

Next weekend is our anniversary. We’re going to spend the night in a nice hotel in Frankfurt, then the next day, we’re flying to Poland. Bill has business there, and I’m tagging along. I may find some things to do, but mainly he just wants me to keep him company. I wasn’t actually wanting to go with him, once I learned we’d have to fly. I wanted to drive so we could stop by Dariusz Milinski’s art gallery and buy a painting. It’s been on our bucket list since we celebrated anniversary number 6 in Poland, back in 2008. We wanted to buy a painting then, but only had enough cash to buy a couple of sketches.

Alas, Bill’s company is requiring him to fly. I was going to stay home, but he convinced me to go with him. Hopefully, it will be fun, and no one’s child will shit in front of me at breakfast. As for the rest of the dream, the only chance of a really fancy room is when we’re in Frankfurt, since we’re paying for it. And since we’re paying so much, I won’t be allowing strange couples into my bedroom so they can deface the walls and fuck each other in my bed.