Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mental Health

It seems that all of our local news coverage is about the "Craigslist baby" in Longmont - and I can understand how such a story can seize the imagination and horror of people around the world.  A woman, who is almost eight months pregnant drives to an address to check out an offer of slightly used baby clothes for sale.  When she arrives at the home, she is taken inside, and then led into the basement to look at the offered clothing.  Instead of clothing, she finds herself at knife-point, and her child is abruptly cut from her abdomen.  The victim manages to call 911 and say her location and report the attack.  Luckily, she survives this traumatic event.  The baby, however dies.  The woman who is accused of the crime brings the baby into the same hospital where the mother is undergoing life-saving surgery, and claims that she has miscarried the child.  The accused woman's husband had come home, at her call, in which she told him she had miscarried their child.  The husband drove his wife and the baby to the emergency room.
   Why is today's blog titled "Mental Health?"  Because the woman accused of the above crime has two teen-aged daughters (16 and 18), and she lost a son at the age of 10 or 11 months in 2002.  Even though she was not pregnant, she convinced her husband that she was.  Apparently the death of her son has been a corrosion in her mental wellness.  She had told her husband about going to the clinic for pre-natal check-ups, and he believed her.  She had been a licensed Nurses Aide - surely she knew her own body...  But it's clear the woman suffers from mental problems.  One simply does not lure pregnant women to one's home  and surgically remove the other woman's baby to claim as one's own.
   Earlier that day, there was also another bloody incident in Longmont.  A man in his early 30s was served with legal papers stating that he couldn't approach his wife or child - the wife had shown that the man was a physical threat to both her and their child.  The papers were served on Tuesday night.  Shortly after midnight, the young man went to his parents home in Longmont, and attacked his Mother with a knife.  He chased her out of her house, across the front yard, across the street, and into a neighbor's yard while stabbing her.  He left her lying in the neighbor's yard.  The neighbor called the police.  In the meantime, the young man went back to his parent's home, and windows on the second story were broken out from the inside.  Loud voices were heard, screams, then silence.  When police were able to get inside the house, they found the father dead in an upstairs bedroom, and the suspect had killed himself with a knife downstairs.  The mother is in critical condition, but is expected to survive the attack.
   The suspect was known to have mental health issues.  He was being seen by a psychiatrist, and he was supposed to be taking medications.  Police say they have been called to the suspect's home, and his parents' home multiple times in the past; generally because of a "mental break down" of the young man.  My question in this case is - was the Judge aware of the young man's mental problems?  Might things have gone better if the protection order had been accompanied by the young man's mental counselor?   - And, believe me, I know how under-staffed and over-worked local mental health officials are in this area....  But it should have been known and recognized that this action might cause a verbal or physical outburst from the suspect....
   And, finally, a 12-year-old girl is currently being held in the Boulder County Juvenile Detention Center because she has tried to poison, and kill, her Mother twice in the last two weeks.  The girl has placed chlorine bleach into a beverage her Mother drank (and consequently had to visit the Emergency Room at the hospital) and, a week later, poured bleach into her Mother's bedside water carafe before bed.  The girl's reason for doing such a terrible thing?  Her Mother had taken away the girl's iPhone  for disobedience.  I wonder what the exact disobedience was?  And, what is happening to our society when a 12-year-old thinks it's perfectly normal to poison her Mother for a disciplinary action?
   I am really distressed by the recent events in Longmont and Boulder County.  I feel empathy for all of the people involved in the three stories I've told above.  But I am definitely worried out our society - and how it perceives mental illness, in the first two cases - and the total lack of empathy and feelings, in the third....
   I do not and can not condone any of the things that I have described above - and, yet, having to combat mental illness every day, myself, I have a slight notion of the feelings that might have driven the accused in the first case, and the suspect in the second case.  I cannot feel anything but disquiet about the third case.

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