Woman mourns son who long struggled with mental health issues

ELLSWORTH — A homeless Ellsworth man, Nicholas O. Stanley, died July 6, in spite of his mother’s efforts for years to get him the help that he needed.

Stanley was 34.

On Tuesday, his mother, Leanne Lilly of North Conway, N.H., and Maine, said her son’s cause of death is listed as “accidental death due to epilepsy.”

Seizures were a side effect of a traumatic brain injury Stanley received at age 15 during an all-terrain-vehicle accident on Swan’s Island.

It was last July that Lilly spoke to The American about her frustration with getting help for her son. She spoke about the revolving door of Maine’s judicial system for homeless people like her son who have both substance and mental health struggles.

She said if not in jail or living in a homeless encampment off High Street, Stanley was in the hospital for grand mal seizures.

Lilly said then, “He needs an involuntary commitment.”

But that never happened.

Lilly had been trying to get her son kept in jail until there was an opening at a rehabilitation facility. From rehab, she said she would get her son into an institute that specializes in recovery from traumatic brain injuries. She described him then as having “a 15-year-old mentality in a 33-year-old body.” Surgeons had to remove part of Stanley’s right frontal lobe, which affects impulse control, the mother said.

“I was within inches of getting Nicholas into the home at Dorothea Dix,” Lilly said this week.

“He was only 34 years old,” she said. “I do believe it’s the system that needs to be changed.”

“I’m not going to stop just because he’s dead,” said Lilly. “I want to work to prevent this from happening to anyone else in his situation.”

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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