Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Preventable Tragedies Occur within Families, too. This time in Tennessee.

michelle-owens (June 30, 2016) A severely mentally ill Alabama woman was taken by Tennessee police to a psychiatric hospital for treatment after she was arrested in the state earlier this month. But, after a too-short stay, she was released from the hospital without follow-up care. Now, a few weeks later, she faces charges in the fatal shooting of her husband (“Tennessee sheriff: Decatur slaying suspect taken for psychiatric treatment earlier this month,” Decatur Daily, June 29).MIchelle Owens, 44, was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit after a Tennessee police officer attempted to pull her over for speeding and she fled the scene.
“She just took off, and they ended up using a spike strip to stop her,” Trousdale County Sheriff Ray Russell said. “We knew something was going on with her and she needed help.”
Owens was charged with misdemeanor evading arrest by motor vehicle and issued a speeding citation, but the charges were dropped after she was released from the hospital just a couple days later.
“The judge and the district attorney agreed to that because it was obvious something was going on with her,” Sheriff Russell said. “We just wanted to know she was getting help, and her husband was there to make sure she was OK.”
Family members reveal Owens had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her 17-year-old son became concerned and called 911 after discovering she had recently purchased a pistol and had been actting erratically.
Police responded Sunday afternoon to Owens’ home and found her husband, Lawrence “Eddie” Owens, 44, dead with a gunshot wound to the head.
To recap, Michelle Owens—a severely ill women in the midst of an acute psychiatric crisis—was released from a psychiatric hospital after a couple of days because police and medical staff believed that “she was getting help and her husband was there to make sure she was OK.”
But who was there to make sure Owens’ husband was OK?
Psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are vastly overrepresented among family homicides, according to a new Treatment Advocacy Center study on the topic.
In nearly 30 percent of all family homicides the offender was reported to have a severe psychiatric disease, and failure to take medication prescribed for serious mental illness was a major risk factor for committing a family homicide, the study reported.
"It's insanity to close down psychiatric facilities and make treatment in the community almost impossible to access, leaving family members with the impossible task of picking up the pieces," said E. Fuller Torrey, lead author of the study and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center. "These sorts of tragedies are the logical result."
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