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Family of man who set himself on fire in Kaysville says they repeatedly tried to get mental health help

Posted at 9:54 PM, Apr 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-07 17:11:11-04

KAYSVILLE, Utah -- The family of a man who was rescued by police after lighting himself on fire in Kaysville Thursday says they have tried repeatedly to find help for their loved one.

“We’ve been dismissed over and over again to the point this last episode was beyond extreme," said Kayla Faithbudge, the man's sister. "It's not like we haven't tried. It's not like he hasn't tried."

Tyler Ivison. Photo courtesy family.

Faithbudge says the mental health care system failed her brother, Tyler. The 26-year-old lit himself on fire at a Kaysville gas station Thursday afternoon, severely burning himself and hurting four police officers.

“My heart just dropped cause I knew,” Faithbudge said of hearing the news.

Dozens of police agencies, several ambulances, a medical helicopter and four officers down. In the center of the chaos was Faithbudge’s brother, Tyler.

“There's been a lot of tears because we've been front line telling mental health professionals, doctors, that it's getting worse and something worse is going to happen,” Faithbudge said.

Thursday afternoon, investigators say Tyler doused himself in fuel at a Chevron gas station. Four police officers tried to wrestle a lighter out of his hands, but a spark sent him up in flames. Now Tyler is unconscious in the hospital.

“I think he's going to wake up and wonder what happened because in his right mind, no, he wouldn't have ever done that,” Faithbudge said.

Kayla said she started seeing changes in her brother a couple of years ago and recently he was diagnosed.

“Tyler suffers from a bipolar-schizophrenia hybrid,” Faithbudge said.

And the incident in Kaysville is what she's been fearing.

“This is escalating, he's going to hurt himself, it's getting worse,” Faithbudge said.

She said this marks his third recent suicide attempt.

“We've ended up in hospitals, and he's there for four days and then passes him on his way with a bottle of pills and no treatment plan,” Faithbudge said.

For months they've been on a list to get professional help.

“We put in for a psychiatrist in February. It is now April, and we finally got a counselor for next week… It’s too late,” Faithbudge said.

Tyler’s family isn't the only one suffering. Despite the rising statistics in mental illness, there is an increasing shortage of psychiatrists nationwide. According to a recent study, only 47% of the need is met here in Utah.

“I want to fight for him," Faithbudge said. "He wants help. He wants to feel normal. This is not him. It's not his fault he has a mental illness."

It's law enforcement personnel like the ones who responded to the gas station that Tyler’s family says are on the front lines of this broken mental health care system.

She has a message for the officers who risked their lives to save her brother: “Thank you, and I appreciate you so much because who else would have done that?"

Kayla doesn't want other families to go through this pain and says this problem needs to be addressed.

Tyler is at the University of Utah Hospital in critical condition but is expected to live.

One of the officers injured will be here for two weeks but is expected to make a full recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Utahns can also visit Hope4Utah and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for additional resources. You can also download the SafeUT app for instant, confidential crisis services.