Capitol threat suspect's family says he has mental illnesses - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Capitol threat suspect's family says he struggles with mental illness

MADISON (WKOW) -- Family of the man accused of bringing homemade explosives into the Capitol building says he struggles with mental illness.

Kvon Smith, 20, is facing charges for possession of Molotov cocktails, creating a bomb scare, recklessly endangering safety and disorderly conduct for an incident at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

Smith's family tells 27 News that he recently stopped taking medication for several mental illnesses that he's suffered from since 2009.

Smith's mother Kiyi Aikens says her son struggles with PTSD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Smith spent about nine days in a Milwaukee hospital just three weeks ago, but refused medication. In 2010, he was discharged from service in the Air Force after 8 months because of those problems.

In November, Aikens says Smith stopped taking his medication and cut himself off from his family in Madison. Aikens says when he is off his medication, he's aggressive and depressed and can't be convinced to get help.

"He has stopped talking to me, I haven't heard from him in about three weeks and it was terrible," says Kiyi Aikens. "Because he's an adult at this time, I'm not able to have any say so or talk to doctors unless Kvon gives his consent."

When Smith's family heard about what happened at the Capitol, they were shocked and upset.

"Kvon does not need to go to jail, he needs to go to a hospital," says Smith's grandmother Sha-ron Aikens. "He needs doctors, nurses, he needs someone to help him."

Trying to get him help has been difficult for Smith's family, but help is out there to guide families through mental illness.

Programs like Mental Health First Aid teach people how to recognize signs and symptoms of common mental illnesses. It's a class put on by Journey Mental Health Center in Madison-- the first of its kind in southern Wisconsin. Participants spend 12 hours over the course of a month learning how to catch problems before it's too late.

"We firmly believe that the more people know about mental health problems, the more prepared we can be to help those in need and hopefully avoid some of the tragedies we've experienced in the past," says Dan Muxfeld, director of development and community relations at Journey.

Call 608-280-2566 for more information on the program, or visit Journey's website.

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