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The Tragedy Of Schizophrenia And The Lessons We Must Learn
Statement By Laurie M. Flynn, Executive Director National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
We are devastated by the news of the terrible tragedy of Caroline Costello’s death. Our hearts break for this young woman and her family. Our compassion and tears over her death also extend to Michael Laudor’s family who showed never-ending love and support for their son since his initial diagnosis of schizophrenia. And, we are profoundly saddened for Michael—who was such a valiant warrior and role model for others struggling with schizophrenia.
Michael Laudor had overcome huge odds to reclaim his life, graduate from Yale Law School, and devote his many talents to helping others. His story inspired thousands of people with severe mental illness, who like my daughter, saw him as a symbol of courage and success in their own battle to overcome stigma and lead independent lives.
Schizophrenia is a chronic and disabling brain disorder that affects approximately two million Americans each year. It impairs a person’s ability to think clearly, manage his or her emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. Great progress has been made in understanding and treating this crippling brain disorder. We now know that people with schizophrenia do best when they receive a combination of medication and intensive, ongoing community support. Recovery is, for the first time, a real possibility for many individuals with schizophrenia.
But we have a long way yet to go. Science has not yet revealed the cause of schizophrenia. Treatments remain imperfect. The treatments and supports that do work are often unavailable. Violence may be the outcome for some people with schizophrenia who are not in treatment, for whom treatment doesn’t work, or who also have a drug or alcohol problem. Families and friends, who are usually the strongest advocates for their loved ones, are unfortunately most often the victims of this aggression.
What does this tragedy teach us? Several things:
FACTS ON SCHIZOPHRENIA
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects approximately two million Americans today, or between one and two percent of the population. Schizophrenia can affect anyone at any age, but most cases develop between adolescence and age 30. Children can be affected by schizophrenia, but this is uncommon.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia:
Possible Antipsychotic Medication Side Effects: