Jun 16, 2010

Woman shoots self to get surgery

Woman shoots self to get surgery

Desperate and uninsured, Kathy Myers hoped wound would lead to shoulder repair she couldn't afford

By DEBRA HAIGHT - H-P Correspondent
Published: Saturday, June 12, 2010 1:08 PM EDT
NILES - A woman suffering from severe shoulder pain and without any health insurance shot herself in the upper arm Thursday so she could get emergency room care.

Police said the incident happened around 4 p.m. at a home in the 1500 block of Michigan Street on the city's southeast side. Niles police found 41-year-old Kathy Myers suffering from a gunshot wound.

City firefighters and SMCAS ambulance staff tended to her wound, and she was taken to Lakeland Hospital in Niles, where she was treated and released a few hours later.

The bullet, from a .25-caliber handgun, entered her upper arm and exited a few inches lower on her arm.

She told WNDU-TV that she couldn't see a specialist about her lingering shoulder pain because she couldn't afford health insurance.

"If it's not a threatening situation then they won't do anything about it," she said. "So I thought I would give them a life-threatening situation.

"I really didn't accomplish what I hoped it would accomplish," Myers told WSBT-TV. "I was really hoping it would hit an artery or bone so they would do the surgery and fix me. I have no suicide wish. My life sucks right now, but I want to live."

Paul Smallmon, the father of Myers' friend, spoke with The Herald-Palladium Friday evening. Myers lives in the Smallmons' home.

"She had a shoulder injury from about a month ago and was trying to get some help for that," Smallmon said. "She went about it the wrong way."

It was the Smallmons' gun that she reportedly used to shoot herself.

The WNDU story said Myers had been injured when she tried to restrain her bigger dog after it lunged at her Chihuahuas.

Smallmon said Myers had her shoulder injury checked out by doctors, who said she didn't have any broken bones but likely a torn or stretched ligament. They gave her pain pills, which he said hadn't taken away all the pain.

"She was in so much pain, she went out of her head," he said about Myers shooting herself. "She was at her wit's end."

Smallmon said Myers had been out of work as an asbestos remover for close to a year, had run out of unemployment benefits and didn't have any health insurance.

He said she had tried to get work recently in order to get some health insurance but couldn't work because of her shoulder injury.

By Friday evening people had come forward to try to help Myers get the medical attention she needs for her shoulder injury.

Smallmon said the gunshot wound was minor and not causing her much pain, if any, in comparison with the pain from the shoulder injury.

As for the possibility of criminal charges being filed against Myers for shooting herself, he said, "We're hoping nothing happens."

Niles Police Capt. Jim Millin said Friday that the information was turned over to the Berrien County prosecutor Friday as a routine matter. He said it would be up to the prosecutor whether charges are filed.

Millin said possible charges would be discharge of a firearm in the city, which is a local ordinance violation, or careless or reckless discharge of a firearm.

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