Health

Voices crying out in the wilderness: Infanticide declines after rising for two decades – Part 1

D, as I will call her, is one of my best friends. We’ve known each other since we worked together right out of high school. She’s one of the brightest, most creative, and caring sistahs I know. She is a very loving mother to her daughter. D, as I will call her, is one of my best friends. We’ve known each other since we worked together right out of high school. She’s one of the brightest, most creative, and caring sistahs I know. She is a very loving mother to her daughter. However, as a young adult, she was diagnosed as manic-depressive with bi-polar disorder. It comes and it goes. Sometimes she’s really on top of things. Yet, there have been times when I have gotten a call in the middle of the night from her husband to go with him and drag her out of someplace where she was creating a disturbance.

But no matter what, we have been and we are still best friends. It’s often difficult because I now live many miles away. I might get a call at 3 a.m, as I did a few weeks ago where she announced, “Hey girl, this is Spiderwoman. Wake up and talk to me. I’m out surveying all of my land.” I told her I needed to get some sleep, but that meant nothing. She just kept right on talking. At times like this, I have to remember the friend I’ve known over the years who is hidden deep inside this outer facade. I have to remember all of the laughter, all of the tears, and all of the trials and tribulations we’ve faced.

Over the years, the care she’s received for her mental health has varied from appropriate to very inappropriate where the attending physician developed an intimate relationship with her. She’s had so many different medications that I often wonder if anything will work now. She sometimes “self-medicates” with Jack Daniels, even when she’s taking prescription medication. It’s often after one of those episodes that she winds up in the hospital. She sometimes becomes overly religious to the point of fanaticism.

I often wonder how this is all going to turn out. I got a call from her daughter, who’s now in college, the other day. When I heard her voice, I was almost afraid to hear that there might be bad news about D, but thankfully, she just wanted to check in with me and let me know her plans for graduate school.

Whether you are a friend or a family member of someone facing mental health challenges, the road can often be rough to say the very least. Sometimes you get help. Sometimes you don’t. I have been very concerned about the recent case of Naomi Gaines who threw herself and her two young babies off of a bridge over the Fourth of July weekend. Naomi and one of the infants survived. The other child, who died, may have become a victim of infanticide. Infanticide is the killing of an infant (baby). In some areas, it is identified as an offense of lessened capacity that is limited to a female person who, not fully recovered from the disturbing effects of the birth of her child or subsequent lactation, by a willful act or omission, causes the death of her newly-born child.

The following data is from the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics on Homicide trends in the U.S. detailing infanticides.

The number of homicides of children under age five (infanticides) increased over the past two decades but declined recently.

While the incidence of infanticide has increased, the rates have remained fairly stable.

Infanticide rates for black children have fluctuated, but are currently lower than in earlier years white children have remained stable children of other racial groups have declined.

The younger the child, the greater the risk for infanticide. Through the early 1990s, the number of infanticides of children age 1 and younger has increased while the number for older children has remained relatively constant. After starting to decline in the early 1990’s, the number of infanticides of children age 1 and younger has stabilized.

A parent is the perpetrator in most homicides of children under age 5

Opinions about the Naomi Gaines case vary. Recently in a letter to the editor of another Twin Cities newspaper dated J

July 21, 2003
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