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Family of Okanagan Falls man calling for mental health support

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The family of an Okanagan Falls man accused of violently attacking neighbours is calling for mental health support.

Martin is currently being held at the Okanagan Correctional Facility after several violent outbursts in the community.

“Right now, Martin is in limbo. He’s supposed to be in the hospital and my son needs a lot of medical help,” said Martin’s mom Sylvia Tingson.

“Martin needs medical support. Really not in isolation in the correctional centre. How could you isolate an autistic boy who is already isolated?”

Tingson says they have been unable to find Martin appropriate care as he struggles with mental health issues.

She went on to say that the family has done what they can to support Martin, but they don’t know what else to do.

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“I just really want to appeal to the system, the health system to the interior system to Community Living British Columbia if you can work out together to help Martin. I am saying my son, but there’s going to be hundreds of sons in there that will be basically like Martin, so if I don’t advocate for Martin now, it’s going to be a cycle,” said Tingson.

“I am not asking for full-on (help) because I know the system is also stretched but also giving up and just saying there’s no solution… of course, there is always a solution, of course, there is always halfway, otherwise this is a broken system.”

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions was unavailable for an interview but provided a statement regarding Martin’s case.

“There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all treatment and recovery model for people living with mental health and substance use challenges,” read the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions statement.

“Options are key to meeting people where they’re at and making sure they can access treatment and recovery services that are appropriate for their unique circumstances.”

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Tingson says she has received support from the community despite some neighbours saying they are afraid of Martin.

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“Taking my walk and people would just be dropping by and just giving me a hug – it’s going to be better,” she said.

“And to other moms with autistic kids, it is hard, and it will be a long fight. We have to keep on advocating for our children because with the right medication and the right support they do strive.”

Police say Martin was arrested last week after he allegedly attacked a neighbour.

“He was not bound by any court-imposed conditions prior to his recent arrest. As such, there was no indication he was a danger to the Elementary school or Senior’s Centre (nearby),” said Penticton RCMP Const. James Grandy in a statement.

“It came to our attention that there were several incidents which were not reported to Police and encourage anyone who may have witnessed or was a victim to report it to us.”

Martin was in court on Tuesday, but the family does not know what his future will look like.

“Is Martin coming back here? I don’t know. I don’t think it is best for him because we are not doctors. We would embrace our son, but he needs help first,” said Tingson.

Penticton RCMP said Martin is known to police as someone who suffers from mental health concerns.

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They added that coordination between several agencies is ongoing to try and support Martin and his family.

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