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Indictment of young man with bipolar disorder in grandmother’s death raises serious concerns

02-08-18 Category: Bipolar disorder

Indictment of young man with bipolar disorder in grandmother’s death raises serious concerns

Joel Johnson-Liphart, a 19-year-old man from Arnold (Maryland) suffering from an array of mental disabilities like bipolar disorders, autism, etc., has been indicted in the death of his grandmother due to an assault committed by him in Oct. 2017. On Oct. 8 2017, the accused had an altercation with his mother at their home during which he pushed her against the kitchen cabinet several times. He even struck his mother with an air tank that led to a cut in her shin. During the scuffle, Johnson-Liphart also hurt his sister by pushing her to the ground and volleying several punches on her head and arms.

When his grandmother, 72-year-old Dorothea Hoagland, tried to intervene, he pushed her to the ground as well. She sustained a large cut on her head and arm after which she was rushed to a nearby Baltimore hospital. She was admitted immediately to the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Hospital. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her injuries on October 23. Meanwhile, Johnson-Liphart was detained in a secure wing of a Baltimore state psychiatric hospital—the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital.

A grand jury in November 2017 indicted Johnson-Liphart on the charges of assault and reckless endangerment. The prosecutors approached the grand jury after the office of the Chief Medical Examiner declared the death of Hoagland as a homicide on Jan. 20, 2018. The grand jury indicted Johnson-Liphart for involuntary manslaughter on Feb. 2, 2018.

Besides causing immense grief to the family, the above incident once again raises the debate whether any criminal conduct can be spared on the ground of any mental disorder. With a large number of Americans suffering from bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, many sceptics believe that it has become quite common to use the condition as a defense against any crime. However, irrespective of the personal opinion of people, one of the established facts is that violence and rage are the two common symptoms of bipolar disorder. Any kind of punitive measures against people suffering from bipolar disorder or other mental disorders without appropriate diagnosis and treatment can prove disastrous for them and the society.

Mood disorders increase probability of violent crimes

Johnathan Van Hoven and Mark Martin, attorneys appearing for Johnson-Liphart, filed in the court that their client suffers from a range of mental conditions. They defended his case, citing his numerous debilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), impulse control disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder and intellectual disability. These disorders are responsible for the impairment of the basic cognitive skills, such as decision-making, judgment making, memory, etc. They managed to curtail his initial court appearance because of his mental state. The attorneys describe the incident as unfortunate and tragic. Defending Johnson-Liphart, Van Hoven stated, “We think that this was an accident and it’s just been very difficult for everyone involved.”

The attorneys stated that Johnson-Liphart suffered from a range of mental conditions that increases the chance of violent behavior. According to a study, mood disorders like bipolar disorders heightens the risk of violent crime among people with bipolar disorder compared to the general population. The chances of committing violent crimes become higher due to the comorbidity of bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Therefore, bipolar disorder has serious ramifications and bearing on an individual’s life, particularly in the absence of treatment and care. The severe manic episodes that characterize bipolar could lead to untoward incidents as mentioned above. Such incidents buttress the fact that mental health conditions should be addressed without any delay.

Seek holistic treatment to deal with bipolar disorder

Mood disorders like bipolar disorder is manageable with timely intervention and effective behavioral treatment. With treatment, patients gain better control of their extreme mood swings and other related symptoms. While going through manic depression, people are unable to control their feelings and perceive the consequences of their actions. If you have someone in the family struggling with bipolar disorder, seek immediate help from bipolar disorder treatment centers.

San Clemente-based Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health treatment provider in the United States, with top residential treatment centers for bipolar disorder. Our state-of-the-art treatment centers are manned by trained medical practitioners. Call at our 24/7 helpline number to know more about our bipolar disorder residential treatment.

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