Sunday, 17 April 2011

FILICIDE (multiple): New York: LaShanda Armstrong

 April 13, 2011: Michael Valkys

What prompted a 25-year-old Newburgh mother to drive into the Hudson River, killing herself and three of her children, remains unclear — but police are investigating whether domestic violence played a role in the tragedy.
Authorities responded to LaShanda Armstrong's city home for a domestic dispute call Tuesday night, but the woman had already left when police arrived. Police believe the minivan entered the river around 8 p.m.
No charges have been filed and police said there is no record of domestic calls to Armstrong's address. The call to police, followed by the deaths, raised questions about what triggered the tragedy.
A family member said Armstrong was not doing well Tuesday. A day care worker said the young mother of four seemed stressed, but not distressed, when she picked up her children that day.
Psychology and domestic violence experts spoke generally about the potential trigger for such a horrific act.
While incidents of women killing themselves and their children are rare, experts said domestic violence victims can become so desperate and fearful of their abusers that they opt to take their own lives — and those of their children.
Such acts can happen if domestic partners threaten to kill or harm their partners and their children — leaving some women to believe that their children would be better off dead than in the care of violent fathers.
Judy Lombardi, director of outreach and support services at Grace Smith House, a women's shelter, said victims "may be in such a desperate state" that they feel the death of their children is "the inevitable outcome anyway."
Tuesday night's incident in Newburgh has again focused the spotlight on domestic violence in the mid-Hudson Valley. Four women have been killed in domestic violence incidents in Dutchess County since July.
Authorities said they received a report of a domestic dispute at Armstrong's home shortly before she drove into the river. Details of that incident were not released. The father of the three dead children was questioned, but police said Tuesday he had not been charged with any crime.
(Page 2 of 2)

Michele McKeon, CEO of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said it is unusual for victims to harm their children — but not unheard of.
McKeon said domestic violence victims often feel threatened and isolated.
"That feeling of isolation is overwhelming," McKeon said. "In a constant state of threat, they will do anything for their own self-protection."
McKeon said domestic violence victims should reach out for help, although doing so can be difficult.
"They need to get help when they feel they are trapped," McKeon said.
Whether Armstrong took her own life and those of her children because she was depressed or overwhelmed by raising them also is unclear.
"Self-destruction is such an act of desperation," said Jacki Brownstein, executive director of the City of Poughkeepsie-based Mental Health America of Dutchess County.
Speaking in general terms about suicide, Brownstein said the act often comes "from a deep source of hopelessness."
Such people often have underlying mental health issues. Some suicides can be triggered by a combination of mental health problems and stress from a specific event.
"Most of the time, events in and of themselves don't lead people to commit suicide," Brownstein said.
She said it is extremely rare for mothers to kill themselves and their children, although there have been cases in which women claimed postpartum depression led them to kill their children.
Armstrong's children ranged in age from 10 years to 11 months.
Brownstein said many women can be depressed after giving birth, or may have trouble bonding with their newborns.

No comments:

Post a Comment