Oregon Man Murders His Sister
One day during the first week of November, Joseph F. Rockwood killed his adoring sister, Theresa. He stabbed her to death. Theresa's body was found in Joseph's apartment on November 7, after a friend of Theresa's asked police to do a welfare check on the apartment around noon. Theresa's brother suffers from a severe, chronic case of schizophrenia, but 54-year-old Joseph does not know that he is sick. He has a condition that is very common among psychiatric patients called "anosognosia," and that is why Theresa died.
Joseph discontinued cooperating with his social worker at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare about a year ago and discontinued his medications. Theresa watched her brother's mental state spiral downward while she and her husband made repeated attempts to get help for Joseph. He was delusional and living in filth. Despite their pleas to authorities, the system had no answers for this family in crisis.
As with rural Chinese peasant families, Americans are regularly abandoned by the system and left to deal with their own dangerous mentally ill relatives. Many families struggle to prevent their sick relatives from killing their neighbors, as happened with the Chinese man the article at the link below. Wang Guocheng's family finally built him a cage where he lived for three years in their living room, but eventually, he escaped his confinement and killed his mother. http://my.nowpublic.com/health/mentally-ill-citizens-caged-china-and-america-mary-neal
Like Theresa and her husband, parents of Seung-Hui Cho had no legal remedy when their 17-year-old son discontinued his psychiatric treatments. On April 16, 2007, Cho opened fire on his classmates and instructors at Virginia Tech, killing 32 people before committing suicide. He wounded many others.
Oregon News reports that Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare declined to comment regarding Joseph murdering Theresa. Chris Bouneff, director of marketing and development for DePaul Treatment Centers and president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon spoke with Oregon News reporter, Don Colburn, and explained, "We have a system that's chronically underfunded."
With Theresa's death, the system has come up with a very expensive answer for Joseph: On November 10, Joseph was arraigned for murder. As a result, Oregon taxpayers will now pay untold amounts of money to criminalize Joseph for his mental illness, including attorneys' fees, court costs, incarceration fees, and for psychiatric tests to determine Joseph's ability to stand trial. After that, the State of Oregon may pay over $100,000 per year for Joseph to join the 1.25 million other mental patients already incarcerated in America's prisons. That number accounts for more than half of the nation's 2.3 million incarcerated persons, costing taxpayers $185 BILLION per annum. Under court-ordered provisions for California's imprisoned mental patients, taxpayers will pay approximately $230,000 per year, per mental patient warehoused in prison. And that expenditure comes after taxpayers spend $8 BILLION to build and equip seven new prison hospital facilities that will undoubtedly offer excellent care - behind bars.
Do you think the taxpayers in Oregon and California might prefer to pay for Joseph's social worker to make a home visit in response to Theresa's anguished pleas for help, and to simply purchase a $40 bottle of pills? But if Joseph refused to resume his medications for his social worker, do you think taxpayers would rather have had authorities simply force Joseph to open his mouth and swollow the pills as in inpatient, at least until he was stabilized? Do you believe Theresa's husband would have preferred that? Once Joseph goes to prison and receives psychiatric treatment in preparation for trial, poor Joseph will come to realize what he has done. How will he feel then? Will Joseph wish someone had helped him regain control of his faculties through enforced psychiatric treatment before he murdered his own sweet sister, who loved him so much?
In the matter of State of Oregon v. Joseph F. Rockwood, who loses? Theresa lost her life; her husband lost his wife. Joseph lost his loving sister, who was his support system. He also lost any chance of finding peace in a lucid state facing the tragic reality that he killed Theresa. Oregon's taxpayers lose the difference between a $40 bottle of pills versus the cost of imprisoning Joseph for the remaining 20+years of his life expectancy. Who wins? In many cases where the mentally ill are criminalized, the only winners are private prison owners - those who profit off the nations' staggering incarceration rate, by far the highest of any nation on earth.
Below is a blog by Treatment Advocacy Center which explains the common health condition that blinded Joseph to the fact that he needed psychiatric help. One gorgeous autumn day, while deprived of his psychiatric medications, Joseph decided that stabbing his sister to death was a good idea at the time.
RESTORING REASON TO TREATING MENTAL ILLNESS
Battling Obstacles: Anosognosia
Nov. 14, 2008
Families of people with severe mental illness are all too familiar with the struggle involved in caring for a person who very well may not even realize they are sick. It is a medical condition known as anosognosia.
News this week brought this little known medical term home. Blogs and news stories covered the struggle that Theresa Rockwood faced. Her 54-year-old brother, Joseph F. Rockwood, suffers from schizophrenia. He is now charged with her murder.
Theresa's fight to help her brother is not unlike the plight of others who care for someone with a severe mental illness, only to find that the state's laws act as a barrier to treatment.
Anosognosia is a major problem because it is the single largest reason why individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder do not take their medications. It is caused by damage to specific parts of the brain, especially the right hemisphere. It affects approximately 50 percent of individuals with schizophrenia and 40 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder. When taking medications, awareness of illness improves in some patients.
Impaired awareness of illness is a strange thing. It is difficult to understand how a person who is sick would not know it. Impaired awareness of illness is very difficult for other people to comprehend. To other people, a person's psychiatric symptoms seem so obvious that it's hard to believe the person is not aware he/she is ill. Oliver Sacks, in his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, noted this problem:
It is not only difficult, it is impossible for patients with certain right-hemisphere syndromes to know their own problems ...And it is singularly difficult, for even the most sensitive observer, to picture the inner state, the 'situation' of such patients, for this is almost unimaginably remote from anything he himself has ever known.
"It's not uncommon for family members to struggle with trying to get care for their loved ones," says Chris Bouneff, director of marketing and development for DePaul Treatment Centers and president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon.
"It doesn't work to say to them, 'Why don't you just get help?' Their frame of reference will never be that they need help," Bouneff told the Oregonian newspaper.
You can help raise awareness the importance of improving timely and effective treatment for people with severe mental illnesses. Take a few mintues to spread the word to some friends.
WHATEVER REASON this nation has to criminalize mental illness, it is not in order to save taxpayers money or save families suffering. What is the real reason to withhold treatment from mental patients until there is a smoking gun or dripping knife? Open-book quiz: Who wins?
One group feels that it has the answer, and recently launched the petition at the link below. One can view the petition language without signing and read petitioners' comments at the "view signatures" link provided thereon:
PETITION TO END PRIVATE PRISONS:
In a country where treatment facilities for mental illness are "chronically underfunded," no expense is spared to ensure that psychiatric patients like Joseph Rockwood are punished for the rest of their lives for committing the despicable crime of being mentally ill in America. (Please substitute mentally ill with any politically correct term you prefer. There is no intention to offend - only to render Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill.)
Arthor's page http://www.care2.com/c2c/people/profile.html?pid=513396753
Most Recommended Comment
Stone Mountain, Georgia, United States