State investigation finds violations were made in relation to Rock County teen’s death
ROCK COUNTY, Wis. — An investigation done by the state of Wisconsin into Rock County Human Services has found violations, according to Jeff Fuller.
In April, Fuller’s 17-year-old son, Cole Fuller, took his own life while under the care of Human Services.
“I was at dinner with my wife, and I found out Cole took his life,” Jeff Fuller said. “I’m like, ‘Are you sure?’ We went over first aid not knowing how the situation was. I drove as fast as humanly possible.”
Fuller said his son had been diagnosed as bipolar earlier in life and after seeing several counselors, began more in-depth care provided by Walworth County.
“(His counselor) met with him sometimes daily. She always checked in. She was always a text or a call away.”
After Cole Fuller moved to Rock County, he had to switch providers. It was shortly afterward that his dad started to see the signs of an issue forming.
“It was approximately six weeks that Cole was under Rock County’s care. During that time, he did not meet with one crisis worker or counselor,” he said.
Jeff Fuller said after his son’s death, he started searching for answers as to what truly went wrong.
“I emailed 29 county supervisors. Nothing,” he said.
Director of Rock County Human Services Kate Luster said after anyone under the department’s supervision commits suicide, an internal investigation is done to find out what went wrong.
She said shortly after the county’s own investigation began, the state notified the county it was also looking into what happened.
“We responded and spent time with them and gave them the information they requested,” Luster said.
Luster said the state then issued a statement of deficiency, meaning it found at least one error that was made in the handling of the situation.
“We just want to do everything that we can to look at all the system-level issues and opportunities for any improvement to prevent suicide or reduce risk moving forward,” she said.
The findings of the state’s report will be undisclosed for a mandatory period of time, but Fuller said he’s confident the county made several errors.
“Those same people that saw my son and did not provide him care are now seeing other people. We need good people in those positions,” he said.
Luster said the county is doing everything it can to correct any mistake it might have made.
“When we talk about suicide prevention, the complexity of the causes and contributing factors is very real. We definitely will incorporate the feedback from the state review, and we just look at a broad. system-level approach of how can we make our community safer, how can we prepare to prevent suicide,” she said.
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