George Russell Cook
May 7, 1966 - November 9, 2017
Salem` - George Russell Cook, "Georgie" 51, has finally, "come in out of rain" and rests with our father in heaven. George died on November 9th on the streets of Salem Oregon. He leaves behind many loved ones, including his mom Vicki and papa Bruce; children Elicia ,Sara and grandchild Oceania; and brothers and sisters Sharmon, Marietta, Bill, Mark, Rick, Jimmy and Anita. He is also survived by many uncles, cousins, aunts and the proud members of the Confederated tribes of Siletz. He was preceded in death by his father James, his brother Eddy and his beloved Dawn.
George loved fishing, biking, all things mechanical and above all telling his magical stories. His passion in life was caring for others and doing what he could for them. George was involved in a serious car accident in 2013 and lost part of his leg. His main goal ever since has been to get back up on that bike.
George spent the last twenty plus years of his life "Homeless". Like so many of the homeless, George suffered with mental health and substance abuse issues. The national data shows that 46% of those who are homeless suffer with these same two problems. Mental illness touches all of us in this nation. Those that suffer from these illnesses should not be disregarded as "Hopeless". Like so many millions in this country, for one reason or another George did not get the help he and others like him should be entitled to.
There will be a memorial service to honor George on Monday November 27th at 11:00 am at the Keizer Funeral Chapel. A reception will follow in the parish hall at Saint Timothy's church in Salem. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations can be sent to the United Gospel Mission.
According to the NAMI website, an estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S, 43.8 million, experiences mental illness in a given year.
Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder 50.5% —10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness. Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions. Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year, not to mention the emotional cost to friends and family.
On a personal note, George met the above statistics in that he was homeless for more than 20 years; struggled with serious mental illness and addictions; and chronic health conditions. Often George was referred to services, but there was not enough bandwidth in these services to meet his needs. He needed specialized service to meet his complex needs, like many other individuals with mental illness.
Published by The Statesman Journal from Nov. 19 to Nov. 20, 2017.