Unchecked Mental Health Problem Leaves Tragedy in its Wake
> 2/23/2006 2:02:04 PM

Yesterday, ESPN ran a feature story on the family of A.J. Detwiler, a highly successful wrestler from Pennsylvania. A.J., heavily recruited by some of the nation's best collegiate wrestling programs, will go off to college next year. But it was not too long ago that A.J., his older sister Brittany and younger brother Corey, faced a tragic situation unlike anything that most will ever know.

The children's father, Andrew, seemed by all accounts to be a normal guy, just trying to raise his kids right and see that they had all the opportunities to succeed. But after a suicide attempt on June 12th, followed by a voluntary stay at a hospital for a mental health evaluation, things unraveled too quickly for anyone to stop them. Unfortunately, Andrew Detwiler checked himself out of the facility before a full diagnosis could be made or treatment could begin. He was in fact suffering from bipolar disorder.

Back at home, fighting between Andrew and his wife, Suzanne, escalated. When she decided that she needed to leave the house, whether it was temporarily or on a more permanent basis was unclear, Andrew flew into a rage. A.J. and his brother, knowing there were firearms in the home, did what they could, eventually locking their father in the garage while they dialed 911. Andrew escaped and in a manic rage, shot Suzanne. When he turned the gun on his sons, Corey was forced to shoot his own father.

ESPN chronicles not only the children's struggles, but also their journey to regain some normalcy in their lives. Today, A.J. still struggles with the fact that his father's sickness changed their lives so drastically.
"I'm telling you: The man who shot my mother and threatened to kill me and Corey that morning wasn't my father. It wasn't the same man who raised us. How can that be? My father would do anything for us, and I suppose that's why it hurts so much, knowing now that my father was bipolar. I'll never forget that morning."

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