Tenisha Fearon, a Bronx mother of four, was charged with murder Friday for throwing her six-month-old daughter, Junilah Lawrence, out of a sixth story window.
According to Fox News, witnesses say they heard Fearon screaming “I’m gonna throw her! We’re all gonna die!” as she dangled the infant out of the window.
Neighbor Lizette Rodriguez called 911, but it was too late. While Rodriguez was on the phone, she heard the infant fall to her death on the concrete below.
Fox quotes another neighbor, Gregorio Lopez, who said:
“I saw her naked and the three kids naked and I thought they were all dead. And then she jumps up and starts hitting the window.”
Urging others to call 911, Lopez said he was afraid “she was going to throw the rest.”
The New York Times reports that:
The police arrived around 2 p.m., broke down the door to the apartment, and found the other children lying on the floor, also naked. On Friday, the three were placed temporarily in foster care.
Fearon’s other children are ages 10, 8, and 3.
The New York Times also notes that Judge Kim Wilson wants Fearon to “undergo a psychiatric evaluation.”
This is not an isolated incident by any means; it’s actually the third such case in New York since August. What these women did is indicative of something known as postpartum psychosis.
According to Postpartum Support International (PSI), this psychosis is a variation of postpartum depression in which a very small percentage of women (approximately 0.1%) can develop delusional thoughts, hallucinations, and paranoia.
“Of the women who develop a postpartum psychosis, research has suggested that there is approximately a 5% suicide rate and a 4% infanticide rate associated with the illness.”
One of, if not the most prominent case of this psychosis, was Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in a bathtub.
According to Shaila Misri, Director of the Reproductive Mental Health Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Yates’ defense attorneys argued that she was deeply disturbed:
“Her severe illness produced the delusional belief that killing the children would save them from eternal damnation.”
However severe, Postpartum Support International says all is not lost:
“Postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable with professional help, but it is an emergency and it is essential that you receive immediate help.”
According to the CDC, between 10 to 15 percent of women develop some kind of postpartum mood disorder, and that’s a self-reported estimate. That means approximately 950,000 women annually suffer from these varying conditions.
Given the statistics, out of the 950,000 possible annual cases of postpartum depression, roughly 950 could evolve into psychosis, and 38 could lead to infanticide.
If you or someone you know may be suffering from these disorders, don’t hesitate to seek help. Your actions may save lives.