Mentally ill man evicted from psych ward, committed suicide in jail

New documents show a man in crisis and a mental health system that failed to help him.

A 29-year-old man committed suicide in the Kalamazoo County Jail a week before Christmas. He was being treated for suicidal urges prior to his arrest. That’s raising questions about the way Kalamazoo’s criminal justice system treats – or doesn’t treat – people with mental illness.

Chase David Dalton Lovell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and may have also suffered from schizoaffective disorder. His mother, Shannon Welihan, took him to Ascension Borgess Hospital’s behavioral health unit on December 11. Lovell was reportedly hearing voices and wanted to kill himself.

Several days later, on December 15, Lovell started a small fire in the hospital using a lighter he had gotten ahold of. The fire was quickly extinguished, but Lovell was arrested and moved to the Kalamazoo County Jail.

Two days later he was found dead in his cell.

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Documents obtained by MLive paint a picture of a man struggling with delusions and feelings of helplessness – symptoms of his mental illness that officers were ill-equiped to deal with.

In a phone call with his mother hours before his death, the two wrestled with Lovell’s treatment at Borgess’s psychiatric ward.

“You were in there to get help, so I don’t understand why you’re not getting help,” said Welihan in the phone call.

She said Lovell’s death could have been avoided if he had been allowed to remain under psychiatric supervision at Borgess.

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“He wanted to kill himself. And they took him to jail and gave him the tools to do so,” said Welihan in an interview with MLive. “They could have sedated him and kept him in the hospital.”

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