A mother in Albuquerque, New Mexico is taking her son’s struggle with mental illness public as she pleads, “we need help.”
Jennifer and Vittorio Cristini say their 10-year-old son Gianni, who they adopted at birth, is currently diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenic affective disorder. Jennifer Cristini says that Gianni’s mental health issue first came to light when, at the age of four, he threatened to kill himself for the first time.
“’Mom, I'm gonna kill myself.’ He's saying, ‘I can't take it anymore. I just want to die. I want to go to the woods and kill myself. Can you just leave me on the road somewhere?’” said Cristini to CNN. “At (nearly) 5, you're like, ‘this isn't ... he doesn't have ADD. There's something else going on here.'”
Cristini says that the family has been dealing with this for years now, and it’s taken a long time to get any sort of diagnosis. Gianni has been on multiple medications over the years, but most of them did not work like doctors hoped they would.
“You try a medicine and it works for one day, or two days, maybe a week, and then it stops working,” Cristini said. “You feel like no one knows how to help you or really what to do or really what they’re doing. It’s this incredible puzzle that you’re trying to figure what piece goes where and what combination will work and that puzzle is always changing as he grows.”
Cristini says that in addition to threatening his own life, Gianni has made repeated threats towards his parents.
“He’s threatened to kill us,” claimed Cristini. “He says ‘I want you dead, I want to kill you. I want you out of my life.’ And he comes after us.”
Gianni reportedly hears voices coming from his stuffed animals, and when asked if they were nice voices, the young boy made it very clear that they weren’t.
“They’re just not friendly,” stressed young Gianni.
Cristini says she and her husband also fear for their two younger adopted daughters Tizita, 5, and Gabriella, 7. She says that although they are so young, they are just as aware of Gianni’s mental illness and are scared of what he could do.
“I feel like Gianni's gonna kill my mom and dad,” said 5-year-old Tizita to CNN.
With his current diagnosis, Gianni is currently on medication that is helping with the voices, but his mother says that every new day is unknown and that out of nowhere, things could go from stable to really bad in the blink of an eye.
“We see his mental illness getting worse every year,” said Cristini. “You hope for everything but you have to be realistic. When he's 18 and taller than me, weighs more than me? I worry about that. I worry about the fact that he comes at me now, at age 10. What's he going to be like in eight years? Will there be a medicine that works for him anymore?”
The Cristini family hopes that the medical field makes advancements in researching childhood mental illness, but in the meantime, they are simply trying to help their son in any way they can.
“I'm just trying to get the fire in his brain out,” said Cristini.
Take a look at this shocking video that reveals the true nature of young Gianni’s mental illness.