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QuickPress: The Carnival of Mental Health is Up!

I’ve been so behind in my reading this month that I missed entirely The Blog Carnival of Mental Health Issue 1: Diagnosis

Welcome to the first Blog Carnival of Mental Health. I’m a day late, but I’m going to share with you an interesting if small collection of posts. I must say that it’s rather ironic that I’m hosting a carnival on the theme of diagnosis barely a week after receiving a new diagnosis myself. Anyway, enjoy!

Astrid says that the next Carnival will be hosted at CBTish. You can read the Call for Contributions there. Deadline is December 30!

By 8 December, 2010.    Uncategorized   

It’s Only Wrong if You’re Sane: Pop Culture And Institutionalisation

Note: This post is going to discuss representations of psychiatric abuse in pop culture.

Have you ever watched a genre-show where the main character is one you know, for certain, is sane, because you’ve been watching them for a season and a half, and yet the episode opens with them being in an asylum, accused of heinous crimes, drugged up, and undergoing treatment they scream their way through? Whether it’s Will Riker of Star Trek: The Next Generation loudly insisting “I may be surrounded by insanity but I am not insane!”, Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day screaming the truth at Dr. Silberman, or Priya Tsetsang/Sierra of Dollhouse describing the asylum as “hell, I’m in hell”, storylines of characters we identify with and know are sane are pretty common. And no matter what the purpose of the particular scene is, there’s one thing all of them have in common: What happens to the character is terrible because we, the audience, know they don’t deserve it. They’re a sane person stuck in an insane asylum, and that’s what makes it creepy.

I hate this plot.

Not because the shows or movies are poorly written: I am still a huge fan of ST:TNG, and Terminator 2 is still one of my favourite movies. I was not a fan of Dollhouse, but can see why many fans of the show were quite taken with Belonging. They’re also typically quite well acted, and even with my dislike of Dollhouse I gotta admit that Dichen Lachman was amazing as Sierra.

No, no, I hate this plot because there’s never any real attempt to discuss that what makes this plot work is the very frightening idea that what happens to these characters would be in someway okay if they were actually diagnosed with the mental health conditions they are accused of having.

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Image: Will Riker, out of uniform and scruffy looking, walks down the corridors of the Enterprise insisting he’s sane.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Frame of Mind”, the opening teaser is of Commander William T. Riker explaining to an off-screen interrogator that he’s not crazy, that he understands his actions, and that he’d like to now be released from the asylum. This scene is repeated throughout the episode, both as a scene from a play that Riker is performing with Commander Data, and as scenes from the actual asylum that Riker has been forced into by the antagonists of the episode, the hospital administrator on Tilonus IV.

Memory Alpha sums up the episode as “Riker thinks he is losing his mind when reality keeps shifting between an alien hospital and the Enterprise, where he is rehearsing a play.”

Throughout the episode we see scenes of Riker being taunted by the staff at the asylum. We also see a few other inmates, with the implication that these people, unlike Riker, are actually crazy, since one of them uses a spoon to attempt to contact Star Fleet. Finally, we see Riker strapped down, forced to undergo treatment that will permanently alter his personality and change him into a different person. In the end, he’s rescued by his shipmates. There’s some implication that the asylum may be shut down, but it’s not clear by the ending.

ST:TNG was pretty episodic, and only rarely touched directly on previous episodes. (This isn’t a criticism!) My issue isn’t really with the fact that the Enterprise may have warped away from an abusive asylum without a second thought, since that wasn’t really the point of the show. It’s just that this episode is pretty much predictable in how it plays out, and manages to reinforce the idea that yes, what happens to Riker is terrible, because Riker isn’t crazy.

I really enjoyed this episode when I first watched it, and thought it was very powerful. Since then, I’ve become a lot more aware of forceable institutionalization and the practice of forcing people into Electroshock Therapy against their will, and the episode is a lot less enjoyable.

More recently, of course, is Dollhouse and “Belonging”. I was actually asked to watch and review this episode when it first aired. I watched it with a few friends who weren’t familiar at all with Dollhouse and found the entire idea of the show – Wikipedia sums it up as “The show revolves around a corporation running numerous underground establishments (known as “Dollhouses”) across the globe which program individuals referred to as Actives (or Dolls) with temporary personalities and skills. Wealthy clients hire Actives from Dollhouses at great expense for various purposes” – very very creepy. I ultimately ended up not reviewing it because the episode left me so angry and drained that all I wanted to type was “arg arg arg arg I hate you show I hate you”.

I have some distance from that now.

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Image: Topher and Sierra from Dollhouse. Topher is dressed in “regular” clothes, while Sierra is in a hospital gown, her hair disheveled, and obviously quite distressed.

In this episode, it’s revealed to the audience that Sierra was sent to the Dollhouse to become an active because she was diagnosed with a mental health condition. Topher describes it to another character, Boyd, as “I helped Sierra, you know. She was a paranoid schizophrenic, psychotic. I helped her.” This idea of having “helped” Sierra is very important to Topher’s sense of self. When it’s later revealed that Sierra wasn’t actually psychotic, but had been drugged to the point of appearing that way, that’s when Topher suddenly believes that tying her down to a chair and forcing her to undergo painful treatment that she kicked and fought against might have been a bad idea. Because doing that to an actual crazy person is okay, but doing it to a sane person is wrong.

As I said, I wasn’t a fan of the show, and this was the only episode in Season 2 I watched, but I did follow what else happened in the series. I know that this is a pretty pivotal episode to Topher’s arc, and it’s in realising that he’d forced a sane person to undergo this horrible treatment that he begins to really question what’s going on with the Dollhouse and what his role is in it all. I also think it’s pretty clear from the show that we’re supposed to view the folks in the Dollhouse as being people who are “morally suspect”.

I still hate the episode.

I hate it because there are so many genre-shows that do basically exactly this, and this episode is part of that trope. Despite the fact that the characters are presented as morally ambiguous, they’re still our point of view characters, and they’re still saying “What happened here is wrong” as being directly tied in to Sierra not having been “psychotic” in the first place.1 They’re also not unique in this view, and it’s a pretty common idea that it’s okay to force people who are “crazy” into treatments that would be considered torture if they were done to anyone else.

What I hate about this trope is that it’s done all the time, it’s very rarely analyzed in a way that discusses the message of “It’s okay to do this to a crazy person, but it’s off-limits if the person is sane” as being problematic, and because it implies that these sorts of things don’t happen in real institutions. Except that, in many (but by no means all), these images are not exaggerations, but understate the amount of abuse and forced treatment.

I think that this trope, like yesterday’s one about Crazy Roommates, comes from an exaggeration of the natural fear of being forced into medical treatments you don’t want because somehow you’ve lost control. The problem with this particular trope is it’s not based on fiction: this is the real experience of thousands of psychiatric patients and survivors. This is frightening to me because it’s true, and I wish that particular truth wasn’t used as fodder for genre shows to add depth to their characters.

  1. I really really really want to find the time to write about the repeated trope of fear of institutionalization in Whedon’s work. It’s on my list of things. My list is long.

By 7 December, 2010.    media and pop culture, mental health, movies   

Recommended Reading for Monday, December 6, 2010

Today is December 6th, which in Canada is the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre [link opens with sound, CBC]. I wrote about it last year. It’s been a very long year. There are things I said then that I might not say now, but I do wonder, always, about a memorial for our dead.

A Bookish Beemer: Seizures in the News

This also implies that if you do something “bad” then you must be “mad.” It implies that no good, normal person could or would ever do bad or terrible things—so if one could prove one was normal, then they could not possibly be guilty of any crime or wrongdoing. The wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you will, feeds and benefits off this idea.

This line of thinking is intellectually lazy, it is bigoted, and it has dire consequences for society.

K at Feminists with Sexual Dysfunction: Compare & Contrast

Today I’d like to present to you a different kind of feminist response to sexual dysfunction – a response from another woman who is intimately familiar with gender studies, feminism… and vaginismus.

As I noted in the New View book review post, I felt like some elements were missing from the essays – notably, it remains unclear to me whether any of the contributors to the original manifesto or the book actually know what it’s like to live with sexual dysfunction – to be torn between what you “Know” is the “right and proper” feminist response to sexual dysfunction vs. the daily grind of living with and responding to it, sometimes just managing

Little Lambs Eat Ivy: Abby…. normal?

We were talking about the average person’s emotional highs and lows. Think of a piece of string that’s not quite taut. There are a few dips and bumps, but it’s relatively straight. Now try mapping the emotions of a bipolar person, and you’ll see a broken rubber band. The lows are lower, the highs are higher, and it’s entirely possible that something might snap.

My hospitalization came as quite a surprise to many people in my life. “I had no idea things were that bad,” my therapist told me. I almost laughed. I had no idea either. I thought I was normal.


The Zyfron system is working on a Facades project, a project about the facades multiple systems have to put up to be safe in this world. I think this is a really good project, and any multiple system who hasn’t heard of it should check it out and any singlet should read it to get an idea of what damage multiphobia does to us.

Dog’s Eye View: Blog Carnival Announcements!!!

I am honored to be your host for the Second Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, which will be happening in January. And as your host, it is my privilege to choose and announce the theme for this Second Assistance Dog Blog Carnival: Decisions

But is she taking her medication? Movies & Myths About Crazy Roommates

Don and I went to see a movie the other night, and gosh, we had fun! I mean, there’s nothing funner than going out for a nice evening with your husband and being confronted straight on with the knowledge that one of the scariest things some people can imagine is being forced to live with someone like you! Yay, fun times for everyone!

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Poster for the upcoming film The Roommate. The tagline is 2,000 colleges. 8 million roommates. Which one will you get?

The particular film trailer that is paining me this month is for “The Roommate”. At first looks like some sort of “And then they went to university and had awesome adventures” sort of film, right up until that immortal line “She is taking her medications, right?”

There’s a whole genre of these particular films which take an idea that can be pretty scary – moving in with a stranger or virtual stranger – and kick it up a notch. If it’s a comedy, then obviously the problem will be someone who drinks all the milk or borrows all your clothes or is just really annoying, and that particular story will usually be about two white dudes, and in the end the hero will get the girl. When they want to really frighten people with some thriller-version, then it’ll be all about the scary white chick who moves into some other white woman’s life, kills some of her friends, seduces her boyfriend, and tries to steal everything away from her, while some family member eventually reveals that the crazy lady is on medication for some undefined mental health condition.

Gosh, I have no idea why stigma is still attached to mental health conditions!

I really hate that I can’t turn around twice without being reminded that people like me, just by virtue of existing in the world, are scary. There’s always someone reminding me of that, whether it’s a classmate telling me she’ll just say she’s crazy if she kills someone so she can get off without punishment (even though Canada’s jails are full of people with mental health conditions), the near constant repetition of the myth that crazy people are more likely to be violent (even though people with mental health conditions are actually far more likely to be the victims of violent crime rather than the perpetrators), or waiting for the next remake of Single White Female to be put into general release.

I know. They’re just films, and they really are just taking the perfectly normal fear of moving in with someone you don’t know and exaggerating them for effect. But I also know that people are really afraid of those of us with mental health conditions, and that the stigma and myths about mental health conditions can make it really hard for people who are having problems to seek out help. I have also had many discussions with people who have been honest about their mental health conditions to roommates or university officials, and suffered the consequences.

I often see the housing concerns framed as a concern for other students – being around someone with a significant mental illness might traumatize them. And I agree that finding me dead in a bathroom would have traumatized someone. But my self-harm and my mania did not seem to me to be any more potentially traumatizing for other students than my dormmates who would go to the communal bathroom to throw up after every meal, those who were using hard drugs like cocaine, or even those who would binge drink until passing out naked on the stairway, none of whom ever suffered any potential housing consequences. To say nothing of my then-boyfriend, who was then causing me active and ongoing psychological trauma through his emotional abuse and who got to stay in the dorm with all our mutual friends after I was shipped across campus. That I was the only student looked at by the university and potentially subject to penalties – and identified as potentially problematic because I sought lifesaving and appropriate care – speaks volumes about how students with mental disabilities are seen by administrators.

I hate these movies because of the stereotypes they reinforce. I hate that these stereotypes are the main reason I don’t discuss my diagnosis. I hate that I can’t just go to the movies without being reminded that my existence is scary-thriller frightening to enough people to make these movies popular.

Mostly, I’d just like to go see a movie without the reminder. It makes my popcorn taste bad.

Wikipedia and Disability

Earlier this week, Netmouse contacted me and let me know that she and some other people had pulled together a Wikipedia article on Laura Hershey, which has now passed Wiki’s notability test. She invited others to come in and edit the post for clarity and any additional information.

I find Wikipedia to be an interesting tool with regards to ableism, disability theory, and awareness building. One of our regular commenters, Julie, brought my attention a while ago to Wiki’s Disability Portal, which includes links to concepts like Ableism (which includes disableism), Pejorative Disability Terms, and a discussion of the North American ideal of People-First Language.

I also must admit to having leaned pretty darn heavily on Wikipedia during International Day of Disabled Persons, which was Friday. I spent part of the day linking people to Wiki articles on Disability Rights Activists including Laura, Gabby Brimmer, Chai Feldblum, and Paul Longmore (whose article is orphaned and needs some Wiki-edits for more link love). You can see an incomplete list of Disability Rights Activists as well.

I know I’m not alone in being aware that there are people who still insist – despite all evidence to the contrary – that disability rights activism sprung into existence the moment they were first irritated by someone saying “He, that’s ableist”. I like that editors at Wikipedia have worked hard to develop the disability portal, and that Wikipedia’s policies about editing mean that anyone can edit to expand and clarify disability-related articles.

Wild Women With Disabilities Speak Out

The video is subtitled.


Title Image: Reflections from MIUSA’s WILD2010
Wild Women with Disabilities Speak Out
Global Fund for Women

Narrator: In August, I had the privilege of representing the Global Fund for Women at the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Development, or WILD, a three-week program hosted by Mobility International USA. Women disability rights activists came from 34 countries to a serene natural setting in Eugene, Oregon. They came to share with each other their wisdom and strategies for how to win recognition, inclusion and rights for the disability community. During the final week, WILD alumni and representatives from international organisations particpated by networking, mentoring, and discussing gender, disability and development.

From these incredible women, I learned how it feels to be excluded from the mainstream women’s movement in India, how it feesl to be marginalized in a male-led disability rights movement in Botswana, and the importance of bringing women with different disabilities together for a stronger and more unified voice in every country.

I was so proud that the Global Fund for Women had provided seed grants to many of these grassroots leaders who had experienced other funders telling them “We don’t do disability.” I was overjoyed to be able to say “Yes, we recognize the importance of investing in women with disabilities.”

Some of our grantees shared with me what receiving a Global Fund Grant meant to them.

Jasmina: I’m Jasmina Risteska from Macedonia, and I’m working for an organisation, Mobility Challenge. Our focus is women with disabilites and their inclusion in every aspect of social life. The great work the Global Fund for women is doing is that they support us in the most difficult moment for us, that is, our beginning, and thank you very much Global Fund for your support.
[La, la, la, la, la]

Ekaete: Hi, my name is Ekaete Umoh. I’m the Executive Director of Family-Centered Initiatives for Challenged Persons, an NGO working with women and girls with disabilities based in Nigera and a Grantee of Global Fund for Women. I really want to thank Global Fund for Women for giving us the foundation which we are standing on today. In 2004 we got about $6,000 from Global Fund for Women to support our organisation and since then things have really changed. The money came when we needed it the most and it was so strengthening, it gave us the energy to move on. With that money we’ve been able to do a lot for our organisation, and the issues of women with disabilities in Nigeria has been brought to the front burner.

[La, la, la, la, la]

Karine: I am Karine from Armenia. I am the President of Agate Center for Women with Special Needs NGO. Our NGO was founded thanks to the grant provided by Global Fund for Women in 2007. I want to thank them for their support and trust. They were the first who trusted us.

[La, la, la, la, la]

Alicia: My name is Alicia Contreras and I am disability activist. Thanks to the Global Fund I got a grant and I started a women’s program in Mexico. I started the first independent living center for women with disabilities, and without the Global Fund I would not be able to do it. My advice for those who think you can’t do it, do it, try it, start it.

Narrator: After the program, women returned home energized to overcome challenges and raise the visibility of women with disabilities in their communities. I, too, left eager to be a stronger ally to the global women’s disability rights movement. These loud, proud and passionate women have deeply inspired me and I will hold their vision, songs, and laughter with me forever.

We want to be a part of your community.

Thoughts on Record of the Dead

Trigger warning for discussion of murder of people with disabilities.

When we first discussed keeping a record of the names of people with disabilities whose murders or mysterious deaths had made the news, we thought it would be something we’d post four times a year. We started gathering the names with the expectation the first posting would be in December.

We realised very quickly there were too many names.

And these lists are incomplete. Many come from news stories that we just come across in our daily reading. I have set up a Google News Alert for anything that comes up with some variation on “disability +dead”, with various diagnoses added in every month. The most recent month has 32 names, but the two previous ones had 27.

The causes of death are disturbingly similar in their repetition.

September included one house fire, 10 people murdered by family members (of which four had been starved to death), 1 person murdered by unrelated caregivers, and three men of colour shot to death by police officers.

October included four house fires, four people murdered by family, three people murdered by unrellated caregivers, and two people killed by police, one of whom was killed through use of a stun-gun. Both were men, one with a mental health diagnosis, the other with a cognitive disability.

November included one house fire, eight people murdered by family members, one of whom was starved to death, two murdered by care givers, and four shot to death by police. Three of these cases involved men with mental health conditions, although the fourth, a man who was a full-time wheelchair user, was ruled a suicide.

I’ve read every one of the news reports I’ve linked to, and many more besides. There are things that stand out: house fires, when they’re not deliberately lit, kill people with mobility-related disabilities who can’t get out. Police officers have shot men whose families have called them because their family member is having a breakdown and they don’t know who else to call: they are aware they’re being called to the home of someone with a mental health condition. When defending a family member for smothering a disabled relative to death, the defense attorney will inevitably point out that this was a crime that the defendant is unlikely to repeat, being a crime against a disabled dependent.

I also learned that there will be weeks of outrage in national papers about disabled parking passes being abused. There will not be weeks of outrage in national papers about care centers restraining autistic youths until one of them dies.

Very few cases came up more than once. Exceptions were one of the police shootings (John Williams) and the disappearance of Zahra Clare Baker, a 10 year old white girl who was deaf and had cancer. Many missing cases of people with disabilities would only make the news after their bodies had been discovered, having been missing for three days.

What I have learned, after doing this for only three months? I don’t have the ability to do it anymore. I don’t have the ability to list the names of our dead every month, to keep track of how many of us are murdered by family while others shake their head and turn away. I don’t have the ability to really look at what all this means, if it means anything. I want to know why police officers shoot people they know have mental health conditions for behaving like people who have mental health conditions. I want to know why our lives are rated so cheaply that starving us to death might not even result in charges being laid. I want to know why our murders are so common, and yet so rarely talked about.

Or maybe I don’t.

Ableism, as I’ve said before, kills. It kills because family members in desperate situations have no place to turn to while political pundits bravely say the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has gone to far. It kills because family members have no idea who to call when someone they love is having difficulties coping with a mental health condition, so they call the police who come with guns. It kills because care centers that pit children in fights against each other for snacks at break time, for the amusement of the staff, are allowed to stay open until someone actually dies. It kills because there are so many news reports after certain types of murders that position the parent of a disabled child as having done the brave thing, the right thing, the thing all right-thinking people would do. It kills because the rhetoric of how having a child with a disability is so terrible that even the thought that maybe a child might have a disability is reason enough for some parents to kill their children, rather than seek assistance that might not even be there.

We are always, always, in a fight for our lives, and the lives of each other.

By 3 December, 2010.    deaths, Record of the Dead   

Record of the Dead for November 2010

Trigger warning for discussion of murder and abuse of people with disabilities. This month’s list also includes disabled people who were victims of sex-based crimes before their deaths.

This list of November media reports about people with disabilities murdered or dying under strange circumstances is presented without commentary, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing people may want to discuss about it in comments. I do not believe for a moment that this list is complete. It is sorted alphabetically by last name. Almost all links are to news reports.

“Amanda” (unidentified by any other name; police have not released her name), 23, back injuries that required a walker to get around, Flint, Michigan, November 16. “Someone had hit her with a car, and left her to die.”

Cynthia Burns, 58, stroke and undefined physical disabilities, Wylie, Texas, April 2009. “The 5-foot-5 woman weighed 54 pounds when she died.”

Thomas Boyle, two broken hips, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 17. Died in a house fire.

Cynthia Cline, 51, “mentally disabled”, East Liverpool, Ohio, November 13. She was stabbed once in the abdomen by her boyfriend.

Antonio Quinton Clarke, 15, learning disabilities, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 25, 2007. “He was so badly beaten, his face was unrecognizable.” No one has been charged.

Amanda Cooper, 10, “developmentally disabled”, Los Angeles, California, November 27. “Authorities are investigating whether she was killed as part of a sexual assault.”

Laura Cummings, 23, “mentally troubled”, North Collins, Massachusettes, January 21, 2010. Her mother smothered her with a pillow; her half-brother is facing charges of sexual abuse against Laura. The prosecutor described her “depraved and horrific mistreatment of her daughter and her post-plea claims that her daughter’s misconduct led to her own death.”

Jennifer Daugherty, 30, “mentally disabled”, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, February 11, 2010. “One of Jennifer Daugherty’s alleged killers described in gruesome detail Monday how the six suspects repeatedly tortured the mentally disabled woman for 48 hours before they voted to kill her.” They killed her by “repeatedly stabbing” her for 30 minutes, then slit her throat.

Tiffany Demus, 31, “cerebral palsy and the mentality of an 8-year-old”, Arlington, Texas, sometime during the week of November 22. The only details as of this writing are that she was found dead in a park after having run away from home following a family argument.

Dawn Driver, 60, schizophrenia, affective psychosis and chronic anxiety, Leyland, UK, July 23, 2010. After receiving anti-psychotic medication, she jumped to her death in front of a train.

Loren Donn Leslie, 15, blind, Vanderhoof, British Columbia, Canada, November 27. Police are not releasing the cause of her death. She was found dead on the side of a rural road. Police have a friend of hers in custody.

Luella Edge, 80, “Alzheimer’s disease and was a paranoid schizophrenic”, Bellaire, Ohio, some time after April 30. She had disappeared from her retirement home 7 months ago; her remains were found in a wooded area near-by.

Lynsie Ekelund, 20, partially paralyzed, Santa Clarita Canyon, California, sometime after Feb. 17, 2001. Her murderer recently confessed to raping and strangling her on the way to a party.

Ila Gandhi, 62, schizophrenia, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, November 14. Strangled in her secured building. Her mother was also seriously injured.

Paul Harden, 25, undefined mental health condition related to PTSD, St Helens, UK, October 29. Unexplained drug overdose.

Ryan Hughes, autism, ADHD, Newcastle, Co Wicklow, Republic of Ireland, September 3, 2009. Choked to death on a latex glove while being cared for at a respite facility. His death was ruled accidental.

Tom Inglis, 22, brain damage, London, England, November 21 2008. Lethal injection of heroine administered by his mother, who barricaded the door to his room and super-glued the door closed. [More details about this case]

Joan Johnston, 57, used a mobility scooter, Scarborough, UK. The doctor who hit her vehicle in a head-on collision has been fined but not held in jail because his “contribution to society in your everyday work is extensive.” Yes, he will not get more than a fine because Joan was apparently partly responsible for her own death for being fat and having a mobility scooter in her vehicle.

Linda Lee Yee Lin, 12, “had limited use of her legs and could not walk unaided”, Singapore, date unknown, news report looks like it was sometime mid-November 2010. Found dead at the foot of a block of flats. “It is not known which floor she fell from.” [More about this case]

Clara Laird, 86, dementia, Seal Beach, California, November 21. Shot by her husband while in a nursing home.

Samuel Mason, 61, unspecified mental and physical disabilities, Jackson, Mississippi, November 16. Samuel has just died from injuries from a beating outside of his home on July 10, 2010. There are no leads in his case.

Eddie Maddick, 45, epilepsy, Millbrook, Hampshire, UK, July 28, 2001. Stomped to death.

Doug Minty, 59, “mentally challenged”, Elmvale, Ontario, June 22, 2009. Died from multiple gunshot wounds after being shot outside his mother’s home by Huronia West OPP Const. Graham Seguin.

Jeffrey Munro, 32, schizophrenia, Toronto, Ontario, November 7, 2009. He was found beaten to death in his jail cell.

Richard Steven Poccia, 60, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Napa, California, November 29. “The victim’s wife had called police for assistance at about 3 p.m., police said. Her husband was described as “possibly suicidal,” they said. … One officer Tasered the man while another shot him.”

Christy Russell, 35, wheelchair user, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 8. Hit and killed by an SUV in an area with no sidewalks. Another wheelchair user was killed last month in the same area. The city passed an ordinance four years ago that sidewalks should be built. [More details about this case. The video describes further details about the accident.]

Shayne Richard Sime, 42, spinal disease, Christchurch, New Zealand, June 28, 2009. Shot to death by police officers, his death has been ruled a suicide.

Levi Schaeffer, 30, schizophrenia, Thunder Bay, Ontario, June 24, 2009. Shot by a provincial police officer.

Ajit Singh, 12, autistic, London, England, February 9, 2010. His mother forced him to drink bleach, and then tried to kill herself by drinking bleach herself. Please note that the news reports indicate that Singh’s mother has been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition.

Jorene White, 59, “bedridden and suffered from debilitating arthritis”, Madison, Ohio, July 23, 2010. “Jorene died in July from blood infection caused by maggots, who laid eggs in her body.” Her husband plead guilty to reckless homicide. “The prosecutor calls the case “sad.” “She had open bed sores. The sores had gotten to the point that her body had started decomposing and then the body starts decomposing, the flies move in and lay their eggs and start to eat their flesh while she is still alive.””

Beryl Webb, 75, histrionic personality disorder, fibromyalgia, Sheffield, UK, May 14, 2010. He husband smothered her to death. He claims she wanted to commit suicide; her diary claims “Hugh dreadful. Wants me dead. Hates me because of my mobility problems.”

Unnamed 16 year old boy, undefined disabilities, but he was in a “treatment center” for people with “pervasive developmental disorders, emotional disorders, are hearing impaired or mentally impaired”, Manvel, Texas, November 5. “Restraint techniques were used to subdue the child”, death is thought to be by asphyxiation.


Torture In US Prisons by Stephen Lendman discusses the torture of inmates in US prisons, including prisoners with disabilities. Please note this is very graphic in its descriptions.

Calls come after a report of 13 deaths of children and young adults at North Side home since 2000, Illinois. “Among the proposals: raising fines and sending cases to a medical examiner’s office. One advocate suggested that facility operators who run poor homes shouldn’t be allowed to acquire new ones. “How many dead kids are you going to get a pass on?” asked Wendy Meltzer, executive director for Illinois Citizens for Better Care.”

Supreme Court to hear California Prisons Case

On the mental health side, the examples too are, in the words of one observer, “Dickensian,” with suicides averaging one a week, and the number of preventable suicides rising dramatically.

Follow Ups

The murderer of Phillip Holmes has received a life sentence. “The judge said Mather had shown no remorse for the murder of Mr Holmes, who was described in court as a “gentle, vulnerable man””

The body of Zahra Clare Baker has been found. As of this writing police have not laid charges.

The men accused of branding swastika on a mentally-disabled Navajo man on April 22, 2010 are in court.

An inquiry into the murderer of John Williams has found the shooting was not justified.

By 2 December, 2010.    deaths, Record of the Dead  , ,  

WIN!: Federal Court Orders Canadian Government To Make Websites Accessible To Screen Readers!

I haven’t even had time to process this yet – I just found out when my friend called me to ask if I had heard the news. Donna Jodham has won her case against the Canadian Government – Government websites will now have 15 months to follow their own accessibility guidelines.

Canada must make Web accessible to blind

A federal court ruled Monday the government had denied Jodhan’s equality rights by not providing equal access to government programs online.

“She has been denied equal access to, and benefit from, government information and services provided online to the public on the Internet, and that this constitutes discrimination against her on the basis of her physical disability, namely that she is blind,” Justice Michael Kelen wrote in his ruling.

The government was not living up to its own 2001 accessibility standards, Kelen ruled, and he gave Ottawa 15 months to make its Web sites more accessible.

In a rare move, Kelen said the court would monitor the government’s implementation of online services for the visually impaired to ensure it complies by the deadline.

I am so excited to learn of this! Congratulations, Donna – your hard work is greatly appreciated!

QuickPress: Disability Blog Carnival 71 is up!

As it is late and dinner is calling, I’m going to cheat and just C&P what Penny says over at Disability Studies. Penny: For All Your Disability Blog Carnival (And Disability History) Needs!

The November edition is up at Modus Dopens, and it’s a good solid collection of links, around the theme of intersections. Go, fix yourself a drink (suggests the host!), and have a read.

The December edition is due to post at Rolling Around in My Head, where Dave H has invited posts around the theme “long nights and what we need to get through them,” appropriate for the month with the literal longest nights (in the Northern Hemisphere), and a month with holidays that can feel like very long nights for many. Submissions are invited by December 15th for inclusion in the carnival.

Penny is also looking for hosts for the new year, so please do check her out.

I’ve only had a bit of an opportunity to look over the links, and again, this Disability Blog Carnival looks outstanding. I can’t tell readers enough: There is a rich and vibrant disability blogosphere, and I love it.

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