Signs to watch for to help prevent child abuse

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – After a mother allegedly stabbed her 5-year-old daughter to death at a park, KPRC 2 Health Reporter Haley Hernandez is taking a deeper look at mental health and potential signs to look for to prevent child abuse.

What kind of psychosis happens that would make a mother kill her child?

Melissa Towne, the woman who admitted to fatally stabbing her child to death, has not been evaluated and details of her case are still unfolding.

Mental health and crime do not go hand in hand.

However, according to The Menninger Clinic, there can be severe cases where someone has delusions as a result of mental illness.

“A lot of times (mothers harming their children is) the result of the delusion or belief that’s usually bizarre or doesn’t make logical sense that’s causing them to do this,” said Menninger Clinic Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Edward Poa. “When it does happen, especially if it’s due to say the result of psychosis or depression, when they hurt someone else, that can also be the result of a misguided belief and delusion where they’re trying to protect someone else.”

Dr. Poa said the larger percentage of time, the mother believes she’s saving the child from a more awful outcome.

However, he reminds people these cases are extremely rare.

Poa has not evaluated Melissa Towne.

Symptoms that someone is in distress, according to Poa:

Unable to function, irritable, withdrawn, has thoughts of harming others or have irrational beliefs.

If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis

Call the national lifeline number 988.

The national lifeline says you can call on behalf of someone else to get help from a counselor on how to help guide them out of a crisis.


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