For Jim Amer, it took a terminal cancer diagnosis to recognize the value of his life.
According to Community Support Services (CSS) officials, Amer endured several childhood traumas, including the death of his mother when he was 15. He struggled with suicidal thoughts from the time he was 17. Those who knew him believed he had it all together, as Amer was an outstanding runner and athlete and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in finance. But he continued to battle mental illness.
In 1993, Amer became a client of CSS, Summit County’s largest agency helping people living with severe and persistent mental illness, according to CSS officials. Agency officials noted that while Amer met regularly with counselors and social workers to manage his diagnosed schizoaffective disorder, thoughts of suicide were never far from his mind.
“But last fall my brother-in-law and the counselors from CSS convinced me to go to PES [Psychiatric Emergency Services].”
CSS officials stated professionals who worked with Amer convinced him to move into its residential housing at Edgerton in Highland Square, as they felt the isolation of living alone was adding to his mental health struggle. After moving into Edgerton, Amer, now 57, began to interact more with the residents and staff and was beginning to become more stable. But as his mental health was improving, he began to have trouble standing and walking. After an exam in January, he received the diagnosis: stage four cancer of the liver and bone marrow, according to CSS officials.