ATLANTIC CITY, NJ October 30, 2014 – The members of Postpartum Support International (PSI) are deeply saddened by the story of Patricia Shurig, 24, who is accused of throwing her six-week-old daughter into the water in Atlantic City, then jumping in herself. “We do not know the circumstances of this particular case, and do not offer diagnosis for individuals we do not know, but preliminary reports indicate that the mother may have been experiencing postpartum depression, or perhaps even postpartum psychosis,” said Wendy Davis, Ph.D. and Executive Director of Postpartum Support International (PSI), the leading organization dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood disorders.
Family members say that Patricia Shurig has been very depressed since she gave birth over a month ago. The baby’s father reported that Patricia had been experiencing stress and perhaps had bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is one of the risk factors for postpartum psychosis, a rare and more severe perinatal mood disorder. Women experiencing postpartum psychosis have a break with reality, and in rare cases may commit crimes including suicide and infanticide. “The public needs to understand that these illnesses are treatable. With help most women will make a complete recovery,” said Sharon Gerdes, Media and Public Relations Chair for PSI, herself a postpartum psychosis survivor.
Shurig has been charged with aggravated assault. Maternal mental health distress is often unrecognized, ignored or inadequately treated. PSI would like the focus to shift from prosecution to prevention of these incidents through education, early diagnosis and treatment. PSI is also working to develop more legal resources to assist women who may be charged with crimes committed during a perinatal mood crisis. An online class, featuring George Parnham and Margaret Spinelli, will be held Nov 21 through www.lawline.com.
PSI has more than 200 Coordinators around the world who provide support, encouragement, and information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. “Women should know that PSI offers free phone support and connection to local resources, where available, to women throughout the state of New Jersey,” said Alexis Menken, PSI Coordinator for New Jersey. “PSI stands ready to assist not only the new mother, but family members, who should feel free to call PSI if they have any question about the well-being of a new mom. PSI also offers free call-in chat groups for both moms and dads,” added Menken.
PSI endeavors to prevent postpartum psychiatric illness and the risk of tragic results that may occur as a result. We would like to thank the heroes who jumped into the Atlantic to assist this mother and baby.
The PSI warmline is available every day in English and Spanish, 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD). Resources and information about postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis can be found on their website: www.postpartum.net. The State of New Jersey also has a 24/7 hotline for postpartum depression, 1-800-328-3838.