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September 1, 2005
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INSANITY PLEA IN KIDNAPPING
The Capital Times (Madison, WI); 8/30/2005
BARABOO (AP) -- A man accused of kidnapping a friend's 12-year-old daughter at knifepoint and sexually assaulting her in a farm field entered an insanity plea Monday.
Sean Youngs, 34, of rural Rock Springs, is charged in Sauk County Circuit Court with kidnapping, two counts of sexual assault of a child and four of child enticement.
The girl told investigators Youngs put a knife to her neck July 20, tied her up, took her from her home and put her in the trunk of his car, according to the criminal complaint.
The girl said Youngs took her to a farm field where he sexually assaulted her before releasing her early the next day, the complaint said. She found refuge at a home where the resident called police. Youngs was arrested at his home the day after that.
Youngs' wife, Kelly Youngs, has said he was diagnosed with bipolar disease, also known as manic depression, and he began behaving abnormally about two weeks before the alleged assault, telling her he had not taken his medication for about three months.
Defense lawyer Daniel Berkos entered the pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect for his client as they appeared in court Monday.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Capital Newspapers
How the Next Mayor Can Aid the Mentally Ill
Albuquerque Journal Albuquerque Journal; 8/29/2005
Regardless of whether it's a campaign for City Council, mayor or governor, reducing crime is always an issue.
Health care for the mentally ill usually isn't.
But after this month's deadly shooting rampage in Albuquerque, that might be changing.
John Hyde, the suspect in the Aug. 18 shooting spree that left five dead, including two Albuquerque police officers, has said he suffers from mental illness. The two officers had been sent to take him to a treatment facility for an evaluation at the time of the shootings.
Perhaps it's no longer shocking that the mentally ill sometimes commit crimes or that they are among the homeless or don't always take the medication they are supposed to.
But the magnitude of the deaths of Officers Michael King and Richard Smith, plus Ben Lopez, Garrett Iversen and David Fisher, has spurred at least some community talk about the issue.
With that in mind, I asked the four mayoral candidates in the Oct. 4 election whether Albuquerque is doing enough to help out the mentally ill.
While some pointed to ongoing programs, all agreed there's more to be accomplished.
City Council President Brad Winter said he plans to introduce a memorial that would ask the Legislature to study the issue of requiring New Mexicans with mental illnesses to take medication prescribed to them.
"There is some concern about making them take their medication," he said. "It's a delicate balance.
"I'm in support of doing something, but we've got to be careful about civil liberties."
While a memorial doesn't carry the weight of law and usually just expresses the sentiment of the council, it's a start.
And, Winter says, the issue isn't one that affects just Albuquerque.
New Mexico, we learned last week, is one of eight states that doesn't force the mentally ill to take their meds or face time in the hospital.
Mayor Martin Chavez agreed that studying the issue of forced medication is part of what needs to be done.
"I'm not advocating actually doing it. I'm advocating we start the dialogue," he said. "Schizophrenia and bipolar are very serious mental illnesses that, if not treated, can be incredibly violent."
Chavez said his administration formed a community treatment team, which includes nurses and social workers who work with the mentally ill. That program helps some of those in need.
"It's difficult that the need would be fully satisfied," Chavez said, "but that's the nature of scarce resources."
Meanwhile, candidate David Steele said the city could never do enough for those who suffer from mental illnesses.
One important step, he said, is helping those who are homeless find permanent shelter.
"We have to find a mechanism to take care of getting them off the streets," he said.
Steele said deciding what to do with those who won't take their medication is a complex question.
"If they chose that option to not take their medications, then maybe they ought to be confined," Steele said.
City Councilor Eric Griego said mental health advocates have advised officials to look deeper at the factors that cause crime.
"They said: 'You're not going to get to the bottom of crime until you deal with mental illness,' " Griego said.
Griego said the city's quartercent public safety tax passed in 2003 earmarks about $7 million a year for prevention and treatment for such problems as domestic violence and substance abuse. It also includes help for those with mental illness.
"We have the resources now with the quarter-cent," Griego said. "Now we need to look at how best to place those resources."
The state also has put money into helping those who suffer. In the 2005 fiscal year, which ended June 30, the state spent $7.6 million on 17 contracts for non-Medicaid mental health care in Albuquerque, according to the Department of Health.
While it's too late for those who died, we'll never know the deaths those programs may have helped prevent.
The Legislature should review what services are available statewide -- and what services aren't. It wouldn't hurt for the City Council to do the same thing.
At either level, though, the dialogue couldn't begin soon enough.
Kate Nash's Political Notebook runs on Mondays. Call her at 379- 8560 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Threatening Delusions Seem Very Real to Patients
Albuquerque Journal Albuquerque Journal; 8/28/2005
Many times, when mental illnesses are mentioned in the news, they come in the context of violent crimes such as the recent killings of five people in Albuquerque.
The man charged in the killings, John Hyde, was reported to have schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
"It's extraordinarily rare for a person with a mental illness to become aggressive," said Dr. Sam Keith, professor and chair of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.
"Most people (with schizophrenia) are more likely to withdraw," he said. "They view the world as a frightening place."
Schizophrenia affects the way a person perceives, interprets and responds to events, Keith said. That may involve hallucinations -- the most common one is for a person to hear things or voices that aren't really there.
A schizophrenic interpretation of events can involve delusions. The facts may be right (a person is laughing), but the interpretation may be skewed (that person is laughing at me).
And the response, most often, is to pull back, to hide from a world that appears dangerous and unpredictable, according to Keith.
What the public often finds hard to understand is that those psychotic perceptions are as real to the person with mental illness as our own reality is to us.
Keith said he once had dinner with John Nash, "an interesting, bright man" and Nobel prize winner in mathematics. He was also the subject of the movie "A Beautiful Mind."
Someone once asked Nash, who had schizophrenia, if he could tell when he was hallucinating or having a delusion. Keith said Nash answered that those thoughts came to him in exactly the same way as the thoughts that won him a Nobel prize. "They all felt the same to him," Keith said.
Laura Hand, program director for the Alliance for the Mentally Ill-New Mexico, said thoughts sometimes lead to violence, because the person "is under the delusion that someone out there is a threat to them."
People with mental illness can also be a threat to themselves. Ten percent of males with schizophrenia commit suicide within the first 10 years of their illness, Keith said.
But it's a disease that can be treated. The successful treatment rate for schizophrenia is 60 percent, said Susan Vescovo, president of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill-New Mexico.
The "control" comes from medications. Schizophrenia seems to be related to dopamine, one of the brain's chemicals that transmits messages, Keith said. Drugs that block dopamine are the most effective in controlling symptoms of schizophrenia, he said.
Its cause is unknown. Genetics may play a role: If one of your parents had schizophrenia, you have a 10 percent chance of developing it. The disease shows up in the teens and 20s, he said. Women tend to have milder cases, leading some to suspect estrogen may play a role, he said.
Criminal behavior and mental illness aren't linked, Keith said, except when other factors are present: substance abuse, failure to take prescribed medications, a history of personal victimization or exposure to violence.
Those factors can also affect violent behavior in anyone -- except the need to take medications. "All people miss their medications from time to time," he said. "Taking medications routinely is hard."
And if you have a disease in which you don't feel sick if you miss a dose -- diabetes, high blood pressure or schizophrenia, for example -- it's tempting to do so, Keith said.
Add to that possible side effects from the medications, and it's not uncommon for a person to avoid taking them.
Also, it can take a while to arrive at the correct combination and dosage of medications, with the fewest unpleasant side effects, he said.
And since a person with schizophrenia believes his world is real, he may not think he's sick and in need of treatment.
Schizophrenia can occur along with other mental illnesses, Keith said. People with schizophrenia often suffer from depression or a personality disorder. Some may display behavior that is "agitated, hyper-voluble, not sleeping" and that looks like symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder, with which Hyde was also reportedly diagnosed, is characterized by alternating depression and mania -- a feeling of being able to do anything, thinking and acting at top speed.
In rare cases, people with schizophrenia can have a psychotic episode and return to normal, Keith said. Generally, though, people never get back to their previous state and have recurrent breaks with reality, he said. People don't "grow out of it," but some of them may find the symptoms less extreme as they get older, he said.
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The Warning Signs Of An Impending Bipolar Disorder Manic Episode
Bipolar disorder - as the name implies - involves two distinct set of symptoms. One set throws the individual down into the depths of a massive depression. The other places the individual who suffers with bipolar disorder at the top of a peak manic episode.
Most everyone can eventually recognize the warning signs of an impending depressive episode related to bipolar disorder. More likely than not, individuals with bipolar disorder try very hard to avoid it.
However, for many individuals with bipolar disorder, it's more difficult to recognize the signs of an impending manic episode. After all, a manic episode of bipolar disorder can be mistaken in some cases - especially in the very early formation -- for the lifting of the corresponding mood swing of the depression.
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