On May 5, 2011, Jonathan Martis was suicidal. The tall, burly man in his late 30s had been diagnosed as bipolar at age 15 and had been on a series of medications since then. He had stopped taking his latest one in April, just days earlier.
He called family members, and to them it sounded like he was saying goodbye. They knew he had been suicidal in the past, and lately he had been in a bad place. His younger brother, Jeff, came over to check on him. Jonathan didn’t want to see him and called Omaha police, telling them someone was trying to break in. “A dispatcher could tell he sounded unstable,” the local newspaper later reported. Two officers responded.
This week’s post comes to you from prison.
I recently met Manny Bermudez in the visiting room of Great Meadow Correctional Facility in upstate New York, a few hours’ drive from New York City. It’s a stark place. Prisoners and visitors are separated by a low metal counter. Around us, inmates and family members handed little children back and forth while catching up on their lives. Outside, a massive white wall blocked the view of the nearby Adirondack Mountains.
Manny is slight, with glasses and dark hair cut so short that the scars on his scalp are visible. As we talked, he pulled back the long sleeves of his dark-green cotton shirt and showed off extensive tattoos.
A closer look showed the scars across his wrists.