It’s no wonder that mental illnesses have the stigma they do, when the only time we hear of it is in the aftermath of tragedy. It leaves little room for sympathy, much less for empathy.
Jodi Ann Arias took to the camera only 20 minutes after the guilty verdict came down on her. In lieu of an apology or an expression of remorse, the murderess, whose 5 year reprieve and 4 month trial, tells local Arizona Fox news affiliate that, she “prefers the death penalty.” Shortly thereafter, she was placed on suicide watch, which is protocol for freshly convicted felons. After court was abruptly cut short the next day for her sentencing phase, much speculaqtion landed on Arias’s possible incompetency to stand. By the end of the day, it was discovered she was taken to Buckeye Hospital’s Forensics Psych Ward, the only of its kind near the Phoenix courtroom.
This is not all surprising considering her history of suicidal ideation. When Arias first took the stand in her own defense back on February 4th, she testified that she thought a lot about suicide in the weeks after Travis Alexander’s murder and her incarcation awaiting trial. She even alleges an attempt to end her life by taking OTC blood thinning pain-killers and putting a razor to her wrist, but stopped short of actually piercing her skin. In later testimony she references ripped diary entries discussing, in her own written words, suicidal ideation as an escape.
What is for certain is that turning to suicide seems to be the trend for Arias, who was diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder by state appointed psychologist DeMarte. When something bad happens she instantly takes to ending her life to escape the issue instead of dealing with it head-on. Is Jodi Arias suffering from a serious mental disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder? According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
“The DSM, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), requires that at least five of the following symptoms must occur to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder:
- Extreme reactions—including panic, depression, rage, or frantic actions—to abandonment, whether real or perceived
- A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
- Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values, or plans and goals for the future (such as school or career choices)
- Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
- Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
- Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
- Chronic feelings of emptiness and/or boredom
- Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
- Having stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality.
In addition, seemingly mundane events may trigger symptoms.” It does sound a lot like Arias, whose father admitted during police interviews to her strange and self-destructive behavior even in his daughter’s teenaged years.
In a bid to save her life and spare her from the death penalty, will her defense lawyers use the diagnosis the State endowed her with? Is someone with a potential mental illness worth saving, or was her crime so heinous that the diagnosis is minute?
We’ll have to wait until May 15 to find out.