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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oprah needs to do better

I am not one of those who feign over Oprah, but I happened to watch the re-run of her program on depression and the Crespi twins murder by their father.

I applaud the mother and her actions in this terrible tragedy. I am not so sure I can do the same for Oprah.

I work in legal and forensic nursing, and I have extensive experience with the pharmacology used in mental health, as a therapist.

With all the press on the homicidal and suicical behaviors linked to the currently used anti-depressants, I am surprised at Oprah's lack of understanding of the issues surrounding these drugs.

This is related to some of the older psychotropic drugs coming back into use. And, it includes the too quick change from one SSRI to another, along with the lack of informed consent. This is required by law, and prescribers are not educating patients on the risks v. benefits of the drugs as is their duty.

In the greater Chicago area is an organization that takes a 'different' view of mental health. With the assests of Harpo Productions it would be very easy for Oprah and her staff to invite Bill Walsh, PhD, director of that organization, to be a guest on her program to speak about depression.

The guest she did have on the program, a forensic psychiatrist, gave a very simplistic overview of the problem.

Depression is not just in your brain.

Also consider the problems with our military, giving the same drugs while they serve, and the consequences.

For more information -
Natural Mental Health
Safe Harbor Project
Veteran's Help Page

David Crespi was taken back to prison in handcuffs after a judged accepted his guilty plea and sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences for the murders of his twin daughters.

Crespi did address the court. In doing so, he apologized to his family and his late daughters Tess and Sara.

He said the girls “deserved to grow up” and continued to do what they did best which is, “to give love and receive love.”

He also thanked the doctors who treated him in prison and said “for the first time in my life I have been diagnosed correctly. It made me appreciate the horror of what I have done.”

David Crespi pleaded guilty Friday morning in the January stabbing deaths of his twin daughters in a plea deal that will spare the Matthews father a death sentence.

It is a very trying and emotional time for some of the first officers who arrived on the murder scene. Those officers took the stand and described what they saw.

A 20-year veteran of the police department broke down on the witness stand and his partner said seeing the murder scene was the worst thing he has ever seen.

Officer Valerie Gordon talked to Crespi after the murders at police headquarters. She said Crespi told her that he planned to kill the girls together during a game of hide-and-seek. Crespi told Gordon he stabbed Samantha in the kitchen and that Tessara ran away from him and hid upstairs.

Crespi told Gordon that after stabbing Samantha he went and found Tessara hiding upstairs in a master bedroom closet. Gordon said Crespi pulled Tessara from the closet and stabbed her as she yelled, ‘No daddy no.’”

Crespi tells police he was suffering from severe depression when he killed Tessara and Samantha on Jan. 20. Crespi called 911 and told dispatchers he stabbed the girls multiple times.

Online -

He was a senior vice president of Wachovia and had been on medical leave at the time of the murders. He was home alone with the twin girls. His wife and their other three children were not home at the time.

Officer J.T. Franklin was one of the first officers on the stand Friday morning and talked about finding Samantha in the kitchen. “She had a very large knife sticking out of her chest.”

Franklin then realized she was dead.

“She looked like a little China doll lying there,” he said on the stand.

Officer Andy Motloch also took the stand Friday. He was one of the first officers to arrive at the murder scene. Motloch thought he found a faint pulse on one of the girls and took her outside in an effort to get her to paramedics faster, but she was already dead.

A blood stained knife used in the stabbings was introduced as evidence.

Crespi agreed to an interview with our news partner The Charlotte Observer. Reporter Gary Wright talked with Crespi behind bars during a recent interview at Central Prison in Raleigh.

“I asked him if he had nightmares and said he didn’t have nightmares. But that he woke in the middle of the night crying and asking himself what have I done and how could I have done this?” Wright said.

The sentencing phase in the now underway as part of the plea deal. 6NEWS reporter Mark Boone is inside the courtroom. He said they expect to hear from Crespi himself.

Crespi is expected to face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
She Survived Iraq -- Then Shot Herself at Home
By Greg Mitchell
Published: November 13, 2006 12:10 PM ET

NEW YORK Her name doesn't show on any official list of American military deaths in the Iraq war, by hostile or non-hostile fire, who died in that country or in hospitals in Europe or back home in the USA. But Iraq killed her just as certainly.

She is Jeanne "Linda" Michel, a Navy medic. She came home last month to her husband and three kids (ages 11, 5, and 4), delighted to be back in her suburban home of Clifton Park in upstate New York. Michel, 33, would be discharged from the Navy in a few weeks, finishing her five years of duty.

Two weeks after she got home, she shot and killed herself.

"She had come through a lot and she had always risen to challenges," her husband, Frantz Michel, who has also served in Iraq, lamented last week. Now he asks why the Navy didn't do more to help her.

Michel's story has now been probed by reporter Kate Gurnett in today's Albany Times-Union. It's headlined, "A casualty far from the battlefield."

And yet, in many ways, not far at all.

Why did it happen? "Like thousands of others returning from Iraq, her mental state was fractured," Gurnett explains. "And it went untreated. Within two weeks, Linda Michel would become a private casualty of war. Re-entry into the world of peace can be harder than deployment, experts say. Picking up where you left off doesn't just happen. ...

"Women experience stronger forms of post-traumatic stress disorder and have higher PTSD rates, experts say. In response, the Veterans Affairs Department launched a $6 million study of female veterans.
Seeking treatment -- seen by some as a weakness -- may be even tougher for women, who still feel the need to prove themselves to men in military service."

In fact, this past August, three veterans in New York's Adirondack region committed suicide within three weeks, according to Helena Davis, deputy director of the Mental Health Association in New York.

Michel has served under extremely stressful conditions at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, a U.S-run prison where guards shot four inmates dead in a 2005 riot -- and an episode of female mudwrestling drew headlines. Michel was treated for depression and prescribed Paxil, but they took her off that medicine when she returned home. Her husband was not informed.

"I just wish the Navy would have done some more follow-up, instead of just letting her come home," Frantz, who is on the division staff of the Army National Guard, told the reporter. "If somebody needs Paxil in a combat zone, then that's not the place for them to be. You either send them to a hospital or you send them home and then make sure that the family members know and that they get follow-up care."

He has pressed the Navy for answers: "Why wasn't she sent to a facility to resolve the issues? Not keep her in Iraq and give her some antidepressant medication and then just send her home. So those are the answers that I don't have. Which makes me a little angry because I know what is supposed to occur."

The Times Union carried another lengthy story on Sunday, by Dennis Yusko, on post-traumatic stress syndome (PTSD) and Iraq veterans. "The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans getting treatment for PTSD at VA hospitals and counseling centers increased 87 percent from September 2005 to June 2006 -- to 38,144, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs," Yusko revealed.

"At least 30 percent of those who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan are now diagnosed with PTSD, up from 16 percent to 18 percent in 2004, said Charlie Kennedy, PTSD program director and lead psychologist at the Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Of the 400 Capital Region vets in the program, 81 served in Iraq or Afghanistan, Kennedy said, and that number is growing. 'This kind of warfare is devastating,' Kennedy said. 'You don't know who is your friend and who is your enemy.'"
Related E&P columns by Greg Mitchell:
-- Revealed: U.S. Soldier Killed Herself After Objecting to Interrogation Techniques
-- A Suicide in Iraq -- Part II
Greg Mitchell ( is editor of E&P.
Links referenced within this article
Revealed: U.S. Soldier Killed Herself After Objecting to Interrogation Techniques
A Suicide in Iraq -- Part II
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