Suicide of mentally ill man at state facility raises questions

Logan Brodal's family is devastated.

They watched Logan struggle with mental illness as well as addiction, but they thought he was finally getting the proper care from the state.

But then the dreaded phone call came -- Logan was dead.

His mother, Tracey Bandel, says, "My life is destroyed."

"I don't have a life unless I have Logan or answers as to why," she adds. "Why?"

Tracey admits she's barely able to function since her son took his own life eight days ago while in a state-run health care program in St. Peter. The 28-year-old was buried over the weekend.

"My life will never be the same," Tracey says. "Logan. I always called him my Logan. He was good to me. Good to his mom. Nothing will be the same."

Logan was a loving son and brother, but he had his demons -- addicted to drugs and alcohol, Logan also suffered from mental health issues that had him in and out of jail and other treatment facilities.

In recent months, he hit rock bottom, and was committed to a community addition recovery enterprise program about three hours from his loved ones in their hometown of Brainerd.

That program is operated by Minnesota's Department of Human Services.

"I want answers as to why my son is gone," she says. "And why he wasn't protected in [that] facility."

Last Sunday, Logan was found hanging from a bed sheet in a workout room. His suicide sparked a myriad of questions about security and supervision at the DHS facility.

The union in the care facility has said staffing levels were at least partially to blame. According to members, there were three nurses, including one hired from a temp agency, working to supervise approximately 18 patients when Logan was found.

The union reports that some of those patients then had to help tend to Logan without necessary life-saving tools at the ready.

Logan's family says issues of that sort are unacceptable.

"I blame them," Tracey says, referring to DHS. "For not having the right people on duty."

The state can't say much about what happened because of privacy laws. But DHS Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry has said the department, with outside help, is fully investigating the circumstances of Logan's apparent suicide, and reviewing all relevant policies and procedures.

Logan's dad also says he's frustrated by the whole system that cares for the mentally ill and chemically dependent, not just the system where his son died.

He and Tracey are hoping Logan's death leads to some statewide changes in those systems.