TOPEKA (KSNT) — A grieving Kansas mother is using her experience to push for change in the state legislature.
Lori Barnes believes House Bill 2250, or the Supported Decision-Making Agreements Act, will allow Kansas parents to help make decisions for their older children over the age of 18 when in need of mental health care.
Barnes lost her son, Daniel, to suicide in 2021. She says she knew early on in her son’s childhood that he would need extensive mental health services.
“Looking back you could see little things, you know as he was getting older,” Barnes said. “[I thought] ‘oh wow I wish I would have recognized that’. But you just don’t know. When it’s your first kid you don’t know a lot of signs.”
Once Daniel turned 18, Barnes says her voice in providing mental health care to her son was limited. Those limitations especially became evident in the last two weeks of Daniel’s life, when she called a crisis team to assist him.
“We called three times those two weeks, they would go to his house and [Daniel would say] I’m fine,” Barnes said. “Well, he’s not fine. He’s not fine.”
By advocating for HB 2250, Barnes says it’s not similar to appointed roles like guardianship or conservatorship. The individual would still keep their rights, it would be a group effort to make decisions.
“He would have still been struggling, but I think he would have had time to think about it versus doing something,” Barnes said.
She now wants lawmakers to know that there are young Kansans who struggle with mental health and may need the guidance of their parents. Barnes says it would make a world of difference for those who need help.
“Even on the days when he sent me 60 text messages at once, sometimes I wish I could get those messages back,” Barnes said.
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