Life Advice



Ask Amy: Estrangement follows police 'wellness check'

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: We are a family of seven siblings, all in our 60s.

My brother “Brian” and sister-in-law lost their teenage daughter to a sudden medical event in 2014.

Brian, his wife and two surviving children have been rocked to the core, and have sought individual and peer support grief counseling. They continue to manage with grace.

In 2017, our sister “Susan” (who lives across the country) called Brian on a day he was feeling deeply sad.

Otherwise, it was a normal day – his son was helping to pack Brian’s car for the work trip he was taking that afternoon, and neighbors were clustered on the sidewalk, participating in a local gardening project.

Susan contacted another sister, “Stella,” with concerns that Brian was suicidal. Without contacting Brian, his wife, anyone else in the household, or any other local family members or neighbors, Stella phoned the local police for a "wellness" check. She alerted the authorities that our brother, a hunter, owns guns.


The police showed up, guns locked and loaded — and wearing flak vests. They handcuffed Brian in front of his neighbors, put him in a squad car, and took him to the local ER, where his RN daughter was working in the ICU.

He passed the ER evaluation and was home within hours but missed his flight for the work trip.

Brian was furious with these two sisters for launching this intervention. Susan and Stella have subsequently not talked to him or anyone else in the family for five years.

They demand an apology for having saved our brother's life.


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