Toddler Found Dead
This story hurts my heart. It is an all too common example of people not understanding the destructive power of mental illness and how to support the people that are suffering from severe depression. Hind sight is 20/20 and it is easy to scream in out rage. But this is only a piece of their story. There is so much untold that we cannot begin to understand the full circumstances of these events.
I think that it is tragic that homelessness is often the fate that the mentally ill face. When they become incapable of caring for themselves and their families, they are left in a state of despair that further compounds the problems they are already facing. It is easy to look at these people and say “get a job!” But the level of dysfunction can be completely crippling, putting them in a dangerous place where a job is impossible and the least of their concerns.
So, how do we as a society keep things like this from happening? My immediate answer is that we need to judge others less and help each other more. There is no global answer. We need to look at those living around us and do what we can to support them. If you think that someone you know is depressed, take this seriously. Reach out to them and offer them everything that you can. A small act of kindness can be the ray of hope that keeps a person from plummeting off that edge.
In our culture, we are taught to focus on ourselves. We have become less and less about the community and more about ourselves. This selfishness comes with a terrible price. How many of us can say that we know our neighbors? Do you know their names? Do you greet them as friends? Most of us come and go without consideration of those that live around us.
I find it sad that we have forgotten the power of community. When a small group of people come together and pool their resources, they can accomplish much more then they can in isolation. But we have been taught not to talk to strangers and to be fearful of those around us. This fear has crippled us into inaction and into obliviousness. How can you help others if you fail to see them?
Mental illness adds another terrible danger to this dynamic. Being mentally ill comes with a powerful stigma. There is the common misunderstanding that the mentally ill are dangerous. The truth is that those with mental illness are less likely to commit a violent crime then those who do not have mental illness. I ask you then “who is crazy?” The mentally ill are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes because they are incapable of defending themselves.
What causes me the most sadness is the that the mother will carry this burden for the rest of her life. Whether or not she had any part in this child’s death will have no baring on her suffering. Loosing a child is the greatest tragedy that a person can face. But believing that you caused it or could have prevented that death? The guilt must be crushing.
The last thing that gets me about this story is the focus that is being given to the mental status of the mother. Does it really matter that she was depressed. Either she contributed to this child’s death or she didn’t. Why is her having depression such a strong focus when discussing this case? It seems when ever there is a crime or a terrible accident, people assume that the person at the center of it is mentally ill. What if she wasn’t mentally ill until her child had died? I think the death of a child would break any loving parent.
Ask yourself: do you look away? or do you see the people around you?
How powerful do you think communities can be?