North Idaho

Teen murder suspect displayed warning signs of problems long before killings

Mental health resources available in the community to help children, adolescents

Teen murder suspect displayed warning signs of problems long before killings

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Relatives said there were many warning signs showing that Eldon Samuel III could have posed a threat to himself and others long before he killed his father and younger brother Monday night in Coeur d'Alene.

According to court documents, Eldon Samuel III showed many signs of frustration and anger, common in children with mental illness, but a lot of times people don't know where to go for help.

Eldon Samuel III is only one of many children and adolescents who suffer from mental illness.

"It's pretty common, probably more common than most people believe," Psychiatrist Kevin Heid said.

Heid works with children who suffer with mental illness at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital.

"Children don't always articulate their suffering, as adults do, so we have to be more watchful and attentive to subtle signs in children," he said.

Heid says those signs come in many forms, such as changes in appetite and energy.

"Level of aggression, changes in terms of isolation and their propensity to withdraw," he said.

Many times all a child may need is someone to pay attention.

"Approach the child in terms of child really trying to understand what their thoughts and feeling are," Heid said.

Sometimes it isn't that easy; a child may need inpatient therapy which, on average, results in a seven to ten day stay at the hospital. 

"They are seen by a multi-disciplinary team of practitioners including psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, nurses, social workers," Heid said.

The hope is for that to be last resort, and can be diverted with outpatient care, like seeing psychologists and counselors who work with children and are able to develop a treatment plan.

Heid's most important piece of advice for parents was simple and straightforward.

"Whenever something terrible happens we pay attention to kids, and that's good that we do that. My hope it that we always pay attention to kids," he said.

If you think your child might need to seek help, call the Spokane Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 838-4428, which can assist you with any questions and concerns you may have regarding your child.