Mom’s and their Psychosis

My mom and I were discussing the Shaquan Duley tragedy last week. We had two different views on whether or not she had suffered a psychotic break. If you don’t know what happened, here’s a brief recap of the situation. Shaquan Duley is a 29 year old single black mother from South Carolina. On August 16, 2010, she rented a hotel room and suffocated her two young sons by covering their mouths with her hands. They were ages 2 and 1. She then buckled them into their car seats and drove her car into a lake. They were dead before they hit the water. The police pulled her car out of the lake and the boys bodies out of their car seats. The story being circulated in the media is that she has confessed to murdering her two sons due to pressures from her mother on her ability to not care for her children. She is facing two counts of murder.

As a mother of one, I can’t imagine the pain that this family must be going through. I’ve never been to a child’s funeral, and I hope I will never have to go to one. My son is 2 years old and I can’t imagine there being any reason that I could ever take his life. However, I don’t and can’t begin to pass judgement on this woman and her family. I don’t know what pushed Shaquan to the edge where she saw no way out of her situation, but to take her children’s lives. I just believe that she had a psychotic break. The medical dictionary ( describes psychotic break as:

Psychosis is a symptom or feature of mental illness typically characterized by radical changes in personality, impaired functioning, and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality. Based on this definition, I would tend to believe that Shaquan is suffering from psychosis. Maybe she suffered from Post Postpartum Depression (PPD). I believe that if PPD is left untreated, it can last a lifetime. I am not saying she is not guilty of her crime, but if we look at the number of women who seem to loose their sense of reality and commit the most horrendous crimes, then we realize that she is one of many. Look at Andrea Yates, Susan Smith, Kenesia Berry, etc. There are many stories of women who kill their children. Many of these stories don’t make the national headlines, but they exist and we shouldn’t forget their fallen angels. Let’s not rush to pass judgement on this case or the next because as her lawyer, Carl B. Grant said: “I have often said in cases like this, where the emotions of the masses have been aroused so high, there is a thin line, truly, between lynching and a trial.

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