Thursday night, Marina Krim, a mother on the Upper West Side of Manhattan opened the door to her apartment to find her two children dead. They had been stabbed to death allegedly by their nanny Yoselyn Ortega, who then slit her wrists in an apparent failed suicide attempt.
This horrific act of violence, like so many seemingly inexplicable ones, will likely turn out to have roots in unrecognized and, perhaps, untreated mental illness. While the Krim children did not die in a movie theatre showing of Batman at the hands of a man dressed like the Joker, they died at the hands of someone who must have been battling demons no less dark and no less commanding.
If we learn the truth about Yoselyn Ortega, it is possible we may learn that she could have been showing signs of a mental disorder and sharing them—either with a clinician or with others around her, in the days or weeks before this tragedy.
I have said this before, but will keep saying it on every occasion it fits: The mental health care system in America is in shambles. It barely even exists. That’s how bad it is. It leaves very, very ill people under-treated and many not treated at all. The system makes almost no attempt to educate the public about signs and symptoms of the most severe psychiatric conditions, as though such conditions still embarrass us or still define those suffering them as weak or depraved.
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