Jeff Fuller set out on a mission after his son’s death to help others suffering with mental illness.
One of his early goals was to equip law enforcement officers with cards or handouts to give to people suffering from mental illness or at risk of suicide.
Nearly six months after Jeff’s son Cole Fuller died by suicide, Jeff is seeing one of his goals come to life.
Cole Fuller died from suicide April 4 at his mother's home near Milton. He was 17 years old. His family believes more could have been done to help him.
Lou Kowieski, an Oconomowoc alderman who is running for the city’s mayoral position, read about Cole’s story and reached out to Jeff to learn more about how he could help people in his community.
The alderman partnered with Jeff, staff at Rogers Behavioral Health in Oconomowoc and other community organizations to create the Fuller Mental Health and Addiction Resource Guide, according to an email from Fuller.
The guide includes phone numbers and email addresses for local and national organizations helping those with addiction and mental illness.
Copies of the resource guides will be distributed by Oconomowoc first responders, according to an email from Lowieski.
Jeff has met with state Reps. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, and Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, to advocate for legislative changes to help people with mental illness, Fuller said.
Ballweg is the chair of the Assembly’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention.
Jeff has pushed state lawmakers to implement a resource guide similar to the one in Oconomowoc on the state level, he said.
As a former law enforcement officer, Jeff said he knows firsthand how often officers come in contact with people who are suicidal. He looks back on his time as an officer and wishes he could have given people resources to help them, he told The Gazette in April.
Finding help for Cole was difficult. Jeff and Cole tried for months to find a counselor who fit Cole’s needs to no prevail, Jeff said.
Cole came in contact with law enforcement while being placed on a 72-hour hold and Chapter 51 mental commitment in 2018.
Jeff said it would have helped his family to have been given a list of resources early on.
Cole’s family believes Rock County failed to provide Cole proper treatment once Cole’s care was transferred from Walworth County to Rock County.
The state Department of Health Services investigated Rock County’s Crisis Intervention Unit’s handling of Cole’s case and found four deficiencies of care.
The Gazette has asked for copies of Rock County’s plan of correction mandated by the state but has yet to receive copies. The state publishes copies of plans of correction to its website following investigations, but the plan has yet to be published.
Per Jeff’s request, information about Cole’s case has been forwarded to the state Department of Justice, according to an email from a state official to Jeff.
“My hope is that this case will now get the full attention it needs and deserves,” Fuller said in an email to The Gazette.