The shooting death of dental hygienist Miriam Carey on Thursday was shocking, tragic and caused all those watching to ask the question, “why?” The 34-year-old ran her car through a White House barricade and then led the police on a high speed chase that resulted in the young woman being gunned down while her 1-year-old daughter was in the backseat. There was a lot more going on here than meets the eye.
Family members of Carey told news outlets that she suffered from psychosis and postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter last August. Reports state that she was fired from her position as a dental hygienist in Connecticut in August of this year and stopped taking her medication prior to her fatal trip to Washington D.C. The question that comes to mind is if this woman was crying out for help? Was life becoming too overwhelming for her in every aspect and therefore she knew that her actions would bring her death?
This is another case of an African American suffering from mental illness and not receiving the proper medical attention to address the underlying issues she was facing. Yes, she was taking medication, but history has shown us with the untimely deaths of many celebrities, that drugs simply numb the pain, not get rid of it. In the case of Miriam Carey, postpartum depression is a diagnosis not widely addressed. Studies have shown that post partum is more likely in African American women. This diagnosis is often frowned upon by others because a mother admitting that she is not overjoyed about the birth of her child is viewed as cold. The criticism is that a woman who is overtaken by sadness after the birth of her child is not worthy of being a mother. I am a mother. I can relate to the feeling of being completely overwhelmed and at times sad when you first have a child. The sleepless nights, endless crying, not being able to eat or having the energy to even go out for a walk can have very adverse effects on a new mother. Your life changes literally in a blink of an eye. Some adjust with ease and others go through bouts of depression. When I felt down I got through it by calling other mothers who could relate to how I was feeling and ensuring me that it would pass. I am thankful that it did, but what about those who aren’t so fortunate? Carey obviously wasn’t in her right mind because she went on her reckless driving spree with her infant daughter in the backseat. She surely was not thinking about what would happen to her little girl. There are tons of cases of women who suffered from postpartum psychosis who either killed their child(ren) or killed both themselves and their child(ren). Simply throwing drugs at people with mental illnesses is not the solution. This is a “solution” society seems to accept with open arms.
Although Carey’s family knew of her mental instability they were in another state and therefore didn’t witness firsthand just how bad it was. The death of Miriam Carey was devastating and it is a miracle that her baby girl wasn’t harmed in the barrage of gunfire.
This incident sheds lights on two very important issues. The first is the need for a bigger discussion about how to access and deal with post-partum depression. The second is the obsession of officers to handle situations with the “shoot to kill” approach. I thought that this method was supposed to be the last tactic in order to stop an assailant, not the first.
Carey’s actions were indeed a cry for help. It could have been heard if officers shot out her tires instead of ending her life. This way we would be able to really get to the root of the problem instead of having endless speculations.
The Black community must talk more, judge less and stop suffering in silence. If you suffer from postpartum, don’t be ashamed. Speak up, seek help (not just medication) and take the proper steps to be a better parent and overall happier individual.