Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Victims of untreated mental illness

Two recent stories at opposite ends of the criminal justice system mirrored those of Andrea Yates, LaShaun Harris, Sherry Sims, Christine Wilhelm, and so many others.

In Massachusetts yesterday Helen Kirk was found not guilty by reason of insanity for fatally strangling her 3- year-old son. Kirk had a long history of mental illness and believed her son was the devil when she strangled him. She will finally be getting treatment in the state hospital where she is committed.

A young mother in Texas faces a capital murder charge. On Saturday, Alysha Green doused her three girls and herself with gasoline and lit them on fire. One of the girls died; two remain in the hospital.

Alysha’s husband says his wife had a history of mental illness with a past diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She was prescribed medication. She stopped taking her medication and, her husband reported, her behavior deteriorated in the last three weeks.
Will Alysha Green someday be committed to treatment as Helen Kirk was? Maybe.
For now four children are victims of untreated mental illness. The mothers are victims too; once they're brought back to reality they must live with something unfathomable.

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