HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The body of Michael Carle, 28, was found in the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor in the early morning hours of September 8, 2016. His cause of death was ruled accidental drowning. But his sister, Jennifer Labauve, knows it was his battle with addiction that led to his untimely death.
"I said four days before he died, I told my brother, I was like, the next call I get about him, he's going to be dead," said Carle's sister, Jennifer Labauve.
She said her brother was addicted to drugs and believes he was self-medicating to cope with the symptoms of his undiagnosed mental illness.
"He had some struggles with mental health to begin with at a young age. There was some trauma. So growing up, Medicaid is great. But when you phase out of the system, it's kind of hard to get insurance and you need insurance to get mental health treatment," said Labauve.
According to Labauve, her brother, the father of a 3-year-old little girl, began living on the streets so others wouldn't know the severity of his struggles. But his sister says she always knew.
"He didn't want anybody to see what was going on with him. So I had to call. He called me two nights in a row. The first night he calls me he tells me that he's going to kill himself, but he wouldn't tell me where he was," said Labauve.
Labauve received a similar call the very next night. That's when she called the Biloxi Police Department to meet him so that maybe she could have him committed.
"Well, he didn't have medical insurance. So after 72 hours, even after threatening to kill himself, even after a couple episodes while he was in the facility, they just released him out into the street," said Labauve.
Two weeks later, her baby brother was dead.
"There's a hole there that could have been prevented. I took all these classes this summer about drug and alcohol prevention you know at the college for my psychology minor. I was like, I'm going to save him, you know? If I can't get help through the state, I'm going to save him," said Labauve.
Labauve believes her brother was suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Because he was uninsured, and didn't have the money to pay for treatment out of pocket, he never received the help he needed.
Kay Deneault, who is the executive director of the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi, says mental healthcare across the country and in Mississippi is underfunded and under insured.
"If people don't have insurance, which a lot of people don't, then it's figuring out, can I go to get access to get some sort of treatment and some places in Mississippi there's not anywhere that's that close? They might have to travel some distance," said Deneault.
Labauve wanted to have her brother admitted to Mississippi State Hospital's chemical dependency program, but months before his death, the program ended due to budget cuts. Even when he was committed for 72 hours, he was released because he had no insurance to cover his stay. Even with insurance, Deneault says there is no guarantee they will cover your extended stay.
"Their insurance may say they can only be there for five days. Well, it's really hard to get back to a controlled state in five days. So once your insurance says we've gotta go, what do we do next?," said Deneault.