News – TPDC Response to Phoenix Tragedy

TPDC Response to Phoenix Tragedy

Tucson, AZ June 4, 2016-  Tucson Postpartum Depression Coalition (TPDC) is deeply saddened by the story of Phoenix mother Octavia Rogers, 29, who is hospitalized in critical condition following an attempt to take her own life in the wake of the death of her 3 sons.  She is accused of stabbing them in her home on June 2.  The boys were 8 years, 5 years, and 2 months old.  While we do not know Octavia’s circumstances, family and neighbors who were shocked by these events reported that Octavia was a loving mother, the children appeared happy, and that there were no indicators that something was terribly wrong.   “This is so disheartening,” said DeAnn Davies, founding Board member of Postpartum Support International-AZ Chapter (PSI-AZ).  “While we cannot project a diagnosis for individuals we do not know, the mother was in a vulnerable passage we call the ‘postpartum’ during which mental health changes can and do occur.  It is not uncommon for a mother to give the appearance of normalcy, yet underneath her mental state is unraveling.”

Women experiencing postpartum mental illness can have a break with reality that can lead to suicide, homicide, or infanticide.  “The public needs to understand that these illnesses are treatable.  With help most women will make a complete recovery,” said Sharon Gerdes, Vice President of PSI.

Both the TPDC and PSI-AZ have volunteers who provide support, encouragement and information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The national organization, PSI has a cadre of over 200 state Coordinators around the country and the world.  “There is a vast network of support out there,” says, Carole Sheehan, founder of the Tucson Postpartum Depression Coalition. “Our challenge locally over the past 13 years has been to engage all providers that work with pregnant and postpartum women to help identify those at risk and arm them with resources.  This is a public health issue and the responsibility to protect mothers and their children belongs to us all. Maternal mental illness is a serious and leading complication of childbirth. These horrifying and deadly outcomes are preventable.”

According to current TPDC President Pearl Aviles-Taub, “significant hormonal changes take place during pregnancy and after childbirth which may trigger a chemical imbalance causing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Mothers often feel shame and guilt and do not understand what is happening to them.  While physical complications of perinatal health like gestational diabetes are routinely screened for and understood, the emotional and mental health changes in women are not always identified and treated. It is so important that mothers ask for help because these illnesses are treatable and they can get well. We want to extend our heartfelt sympathies to Octavia and her family.”

The AZ Warmline is available for mother to mother support every day in English and Spanish, 1-800-434-MOMS (6667). For additional resources go to the TPDC or PSI websites:  www.tucsonpostpartum.com; www.postpartum.net

For emergency care in Tucson, call 520.622.6000 or go to your closest hospital emergency room.