Omaha Target shooting suspect’s uncle launching nonprofit for early intervention, mental health support

‘When you’re not in your right mind, you can’t help yourself.’
The uncle of the Target shooting suspect has launched a mental health nonprofit focused on early intervention.
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 10:12 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - While Joey Jones, shot and killed by police Tuesday after shots were fired in a west Omaha Target store, did not injure anyone in the incident, his family believes he didn’t want to come out of the store alive.

Jones’s uncle, Larry Derksen Jr., said his nephew needed serious mental health help, but never got what he needed.

Long before Jones walked into that Target, Derksen was in the process of creating a nonprofit organization focused on mental health support, hoping to stop anyone else from getting into the crisis situation Jones ended up in.

“When you’re not in your right mind, you can’t help yourself,” Derksen told 6 News in an interview Wednesday.

For years, Derksen has dealt firsthand with mental health struggles; both his own and those of friends and family.

“20% of all people take some kind of medication for anxiety, depression, some kind of distress,” Derksen says, quoting statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “5.6% of people have some kind of severe mental health disorder, so we don’t realize that five to six people of every 100 you walk by really do have mental health problems.”

Derksen says in his quest to better his own mental health, and the mental well-being of his friends and family, he’s noticed gaps in the systems that are meant to help those who are struggling, much like his nephew.

“In our culture, a lot of insurance companies don’t even cover mental health, and you know you get someone who works 8-5, well, therapists aren’t available during the evenings or weekends,” he says. “And even if you do have a therapist, you can’t have any relationship with them, your relationship ends with that one-hour session.”

His nonprofit seeks to fill those gaps.

“No Shame, the nonprofit — the idea is early intervention, get a warm line, and have people call right when things start, before they get to a position where Joey got to,” he said.

No Shame, Derksen said, is inspired by several people — a co-worker, a close friend from church, and his stepson’s best friend, all three of whom committed suicide. When his nephew, Joey, suffered from his latest and final paranoid schizophrenic episode at Target, it only strengthened Derksen’s mission.

Derksen’s plan is to have what he calls “navigators” assigned to those who call and need support. Navigators will work to understand the needs of those who call and help pair them with the right resources, doctors, or psychiatrists.

“The idea is the first 60-90 days, someone is calling every day, [asking] ‘Are you taking your medicine? Are you going to your doctor’s appointment? Is something going on with you?’ Because when you’re not in your right mind, you can’t help yourself.”

Already, Derksen has support groups organized.

“Two support groups that get together so we can be around other people and realize, you know, that I’m not alone, and when you are having that bad night you can pick up the phone and say, ‘Man, I’m really struggling,’ and we can be there for each other.”

He’s hopeful his early-intervention approach will have a massive impact and provide a light for people during dark times.

“If we do it early, people in theory won’t be in the mental health system as long cause you’re taking care of it early, instead of dealing with full-blown incidents as we had with my nephew. And hopefully, we can start to bring change.”

Derksen’s nonprofit is just getting off the ground, but he said it is officially a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. His business plan is complete, and he hopes to have a website launched in the coming weeks.