Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood Could Not Afford Treatment For Mental Illness

04/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

KDVR in Denver reports that Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood, the suspect in Monday's shooting spree at Deer Creek elementary school in Littleton, had sought help for his mental problems, but was turned away because he couldn't pay for treatment. KDVR interviewed Eastwood's father, a Native American rancher with whom the 32-year-old suspect has lived for the last 5 years. "He tried to get help," Bruco's father told reporters. "He says 'I've been to places and asked if they could help me.' He says 'they won't help me... if I go there, they tell me I need money and I can't pay them.'"

According to reports, Eastwood, had been hearing voices, and was acting irritable in the weeks leading up to the shooting.

Stephen Kopranos of the Denver office of Mental Health America told KDVR that Denver ranks 50th in the number of in-patient beds per capita for the mentally ill.

Economic conditions have made the situation even worse for Coloradans with mental disorders. In September, the state announced cuts to mental health funding in order to close Colorado's significant budget gap. As a result, in-patient psychiatric facilities in Denver were forced to close their doors to patients. This was the 4th time since 2000 that Colorado's mental health budget has been cut.

UPDATE: Regardless of state funding for mental health, Eastwood should have qualified for mental health care under Medicaid, which provides mental health care to indigent Coloradans.

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