He battles, but disease defeats him

Special Report: 'Trying to reach Jon'

Jon did his best to combat mental illness, but in the end couldn't shake its grip.

April 09, 2014|By Emily Foxhall
  • Ivy Ho, left, and Melissa Ludlow pause and share stories about Jon Ludlow at his gravesite at Pacific View Memorial Park in Newport Beach.
Ivy Ho, left, and Melissa Ludlow pause and share stories… (Don Leach, Daily…)

Third of three parts. In Part 2 on Wednesday, Orange Coast College student Jon Ludlow decided to stop following his medication schedule, skipping some doses. His behavior became erratic when he stopped taking the prescriptions altogether. He hailed a cab but failed to pay the fare. His parents, Melissa and Dave, started searching for him.

Melissa Ludlow felt desperate, especially now that it seemed her son Jon had broken the law by running from a taxi cab without paying the fare.

Sitting in her parked car, waiting for Jon's girlfriend to return from trying to reason with him at his apartment, she joined family members in searching on their smartphones for hotlines or government resources that might provide some relief.

"It came on so quickly," the mother said. "We didn't know. We weren't prepared."

It wasn't for lack of trying. Jon's older brother, Devin, had gone to the local library to look for books but found none that seemed helpful. He called a friend whose family members had been diagnosed as bipolar to seek advice, but he didn't hear back soon enough.


Melissa had printed out three copies of the Wikipedia page about Xanax withdrawal symptoms, giving one copy to Jon's girlfriend, keeping one for herself and leaving one with Jon, who scribbled nonsensical phrases on the back of it. The family had found the information helpful.

On this night, Ivy Ho, Jon's girlfriend of nearly a year, returned from his apartment unsuccessful. Racked by psychosis, he had broken up with her recently and still refused to hear her out.

Seeing no other option, Dave called the police.


An expert at calming down when he needed to, the 19-year-old Orange Coast College student offered the Santa Ana police officers glasses of water when the uniformed pair walked into his room.

They didn't plan to arrest him. Rather, his father had asked that they take him to a hospital.

"We put people in jail for committing crimes. That's what people go to jail for," said Santa Ana police spokesman Anthony Bertagna. "Mental health, unless they've committed a crime, is not a crime."

The officers said they couldn't force Jon to go to an emergency room, but they agreed to try talking with him, Dave recalled. Melissa and Ivy waited outside the apartment on the Santa Ana side of the South Coast Plaza area.

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