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Grieving family seeks protocol change at jail

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Grieving family seeks protocol change at jail

Jeremy Lum

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POSTED July 15, 2009 2:36 a.m.
The grieving Lathrop family of Jeremy Lum is planning a massive lobbying effort they hope will honor their son and bring change in protocol for those arrested with a bipolar condition – possibly having them listed in a national database.

Lum, 28, was found floating in the San Joaquin River – west of the sheriff’s office – Sunday afternoon after a family search party had been looking for him for some four days.

It was at the sheriff’s facility at Interstate 5 and Mathews Road where he walked out the front door barefoot at 7 a.m. Thursday morning.

Jeremy’s aunt Cindy Lum, now living in San Francisco, said the family is making plans for the future although they are at this time grieving for Jeremy.  “We’d like to start lobbying for a change in the system, in the protocol and establish a registry in Jeremy’s name,” she said.

A portion of that potential protocol change – as she sees it – may involve education of law enforcement officers in recognizing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The possible registry would be for the identification of people with mental conditions similar to Jeremy’s, she added.  People who are taken to emergency rooms or to police facilities where their symptoms go unrecognized are the family’s chief concern. There are 2.7 million people in the nation with bipolar disorders, she said.  The average age for the symptoms to manifest themselves is 25 – Jeremy’s symptoms appeared four years ago at 25.

Lum stressed that such a plan is going to require funding to put it into reality.  For that reason a Jeremy Lum Memorial Fund was established Tuesday at Delta Bank in Manteca.  “We need (financial) support so this does not happen to any other family,” Lum said.

The account number for any donations to the memorial fund is 22179925.

Jeremy’s two dogs – described by family as his babies – are being adopted by his brothers.  Ryan, 24, of Weston Ranch, is taking one and Andrew, 23, of Lathrop, is taking the other.

Cindy Lum reiterated that she has a passion about the bipolar disorder, seriously wanting to start some kind of advocacy – the possibilities are endless, she said.

People tend to think it’s the crazy guy under the bridge who is affected, but it could often be a co-worker who sits next to you at work, a brother or a cousin, she said. Those with bipolar often can mask their symptoms with medication – the problems come when they go off their pills.

Lum said when her nephew graduated from Cal Berkeley with his philosophy degree he didn’t want to go through the “fuss” of walking on the stage to get his diploma.  He was happy just to have a cake with the family at home.

His aunt added that the cousins are planning to have a “paddle out” memorial – possibly in Santa Cruz – where surfers traditionally guide their surfboards to a predetermined location and form a circle.  It is from that circle that they place Hawaiian leis on the water as a memorial tribute.

She said he loved Hawaii and she is hoping to do something similar in the islands to remember her nephew.

There are currently no stated plans for a memorial service for Jeremy.
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