Breakdowns often to blame in killings

  • Follow Metro

Parents who kill their children have likely suffered a psychotic breakdown, according to mental health experts.

Elena Carmen Nichita, who teaches forensic psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia and sees patients, said it's more likely than not that a mother who kills her children is mentally ill or was under the influence of drugs.

Though not commenting specifically about Jeannette Michelle Hawes, a 22-year-old woman accused of killing her two children, Dr. Nichita said there are three main categories for parents who commit filicide:

- Those who have a diagnosed mental illness such as schizophrenia or depression who become delusional about their children

- Those who are suicidal and convince themselves their children cannot survive without them

- Those who kill for secondary gain -- want their children out of the way so they can have another kind of life.

If a parent cannot or won't take care of a child, the Department of Family and Children Services can take the child for a 90-day voluntary placement. A parent can also voluntarily surrender parental rights, said Beverly Jones, a public information officer with the state's Department of Human Resources.

There is help for parents, too, said Cathy Hayes, the director of community support services at Serenity Behavioral Health System.

The community-based mental health center can help with coordinating services for parents, and provide out-patient and inpatient treatment, said Ms. Hayes.

There is a way to seek help for someone who cannot do it himself. A probate court judge in Georgia can order someone committed to a mental hospital for evaluation.

Richmond County Probate Judge Isaac "Buddy" Jolles said he can order a commitment if two people swear under oath that they have seen a person within the past 48 hours and believe the person might be a danger to himself or others.

A person can also be committed if he is unable to care for himself, regardless of potential for violence, Judge Jolles said.

He estimates he has commitment hearings about twice a week.

"It's not unusual, unfortunately," Judge Jolles said.

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
a crazy old man
30
Points
a crazy old man 12/01/07 - 06:33 am
0
0
What's going on, is the whole

What's going on, is the whole world having a breakdown?

twilahzone
0
Points
twilahzone 12/01/07 - 08:22 am
0
0
The world has been a

The world has been a difficult place for some folks to live in, I guess. If you know your history, tragic events and other things seem to repeat themselves over and over again. What a person is capable or incapable of doing---will always remain a challenge and a mystery.

rdunaway
0
Points
rdunaway 12/01/07 - 08:27 am
0
0
No, it"s the work of the

No, it"s the work of the Devil. His only mission here on earth is to steal, kill and destroy. Signs are appearing that He is active in his pursuit of his goals. He is a master of disguises and knows everyones weakness. Even the faithful sevents of our religions.

Nanou1976
0
Points
Nanou1976 12/01/07 - 08:53 am
0
0
Yes, blame everything on the

Yes, blame everything on the Devil, how silly, how about people taking resposablities for their actions.
Everyday a child is hurt or kiled, and the Devil has nothing to do with it, just sick individuals.

walkerjones
3
Points
walkerjones 12/01/07 - 10:50 am
0
0
I agree with rdunaway. It is

I agree with rdunaway. It is the WORK OF THE DEVIL. Yes, its people who are doing these things, but they are allowing the work of the Devil to take place. We all have a choice to do something or not. If we choose to do evil, then we are choosing to carry out the work of the devil. If we choose not to do evil or things that are not contrary to God's word, then we are choosing the Lord's way. And yes Nanou1976, people will have to take responsibility for their actions, whether good or bad... thats a given fact. And even if the Judicial system may pardon her because of whatever, she will still have to answer to the ultimate Judicial System ----GOD.

chinagrace
0
Points
chinagrace 12/01/07 - 11:16 am
0
0
I find Judge Jolles' comment

I find Judge Jolles' comment on committal interesting...and misleading. I have a friend whose ex-wife is a paranoid schizophrenic. She lives in Georgia and has been ill for 20 years. She refuses to take her medications and is now married to a man who beats her. Her family has been unable to get her committed because she has the right to walk out any time she wants to, and she has done this many times. She knows how to play the system. She'd rather be with a man that beats the heck out of her and steals her money for drugs. The last time they tried to get help for her, the state said "Sorry, we don't have any place for you." and she was thrown back out on the streets. She's currently living with the family of my friend (her ex-husband's family).
I find it distressing that, in this country of all countries, we cannot provide adequate mental health care for our citizens. The folks who are ultimately suffering are the innocent: the children raised in these households, the families and friends of people who are suffereing, and those whose are burgled, robbed, and killed as a result of someone else's mental illness. I don't know what the answer is, but what we're doing now isn't working

ejchopper
0
Points
ejchopper 12/02/07 - 02:40 am
0
0
We hear a lot from the news

We hear a lot from the news media about these senseless killings in our country, but what they don’t make known to us is what type of medication were these mothers on when they committed these unbelievable acts. Were they on prescription medication? Some anti-depression medications cause people to want to commit suicide. Furthermore, most people are given psychotic medications without psychotherapy. It is cheaper to insurance companies to have doctors prescribe medicine to their patients, than to have them work out their problems with a therapist. Just taking anti-depressant does not get to the core of the problem that caused that depression in the first place. Emotional and social health professionals need to become more available to people in this country. There are many people who are suffering with no sense of hope.

tracybyrd930
0
Points
tracybyrd930 12/02/07 - 08:16 pm
0
0
I am a mother of 2 beautiful

I am a mother of 2 beautiful little girls ( ages 6 and 4). I suffer from battered wife syndrome. I divorced the man who beat me for 13yrs. When I divorced my abusive ex husband the court system said that my divorce was one of the worst they have ever seen. The court has tried to take my kids away from me because of the lies he told and he has reported me to dfacs based on lies. DFACS knows that he is a pathological liar, and they also know that he is a known drug addict. I am now fighting to have his parental rights taken away. I had a mental breakdown last summer, but through all of this, I NEVER EVER thought of killing my children!!!!!! I am worried that my ex will because of the drugs that he is on. He is very controlling and he will go to any extreme to get what he wants. The police dept. is VERY familiar with our situation and everyone says that there is nothing they can do. I guess it takes something like this before anyone will do anything. THE POLICE DEPT. AND THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM NEED TO DO THEIR JOB. I THOUGHT THEY WERE SUPPOSE TO PROTECT AND SERVE! WHO ARE THEY PROTECTING? THE CRIMINALS! If my family gets hurt there are ppl who will prosecute the system!

Back to Top

Top headlines

Georgia to monitor potential Ebola travelers

Georgia is one of six states that will soon begin active monitoring of all travelers from three Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa for the 21 days during which they could develop an infection ...
Search Augusta jobs