As we've all heard by now, someone left a backpack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, resulting in an evacuation of the area and creating panic in a town because of the bombings during last year's race. Kevin Edson, who created the disturbance, is facing felony charges. His mother issued a statement apologizing and explaining how her son has been battling a mental illness:
Our family is so sorry and emotionally overwhelmed by the events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday. To have this happen on the one year anniversary of such a horrific crime is unfathomable. My daughter and I have run the Boston Marathon six times for charitable organizations. It's a glorious event that embraces the spirit of friendly competition and good will. Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon is a feeling of accomplishment that can not be described.
Our son Kevin has been battling mental issues for several years. His illness has caused himself and our family years of anguish that is unimaginable. His multiple mental health issues, including the diagnosis of BiPolar Disorder, are a constant battle realized by multiple hospitalizations and close psychiatric treatment. Kevin is currently a college student and has not been living at home for several months. Unfortunately his mental health has deteriorated recently.
This is a tumultuous and trying time for our family. My husband is battling stage four head and neck cancer and is hoping to gain positive results from an upcoming Clinical Trial at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. We are trying to remain strong, hopeful and positive. We ask that you please respect our privacy at this time.
Boston is certainly, in many ways, a strong city. The first responders, the runners, the sports teams, the medical community and the citizens are all Boston Strong. What is NOT strong is the mental health system in Boston, our state, our country, and the world. I have two sons who struggle with mental illness and I have had to constantly fight for twelve years to get them the help they need. Advocating for assistance from mental health providers for my sons has been a full-time job.
We wish the runners of the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day a wonderful and celebratory day. Run Strong and enjoy your wonderful feeling as you cross that finish line.
Given the serious nature of mania and how it can be managed effectively through treatment, I personally hope they take that into consideration when he faces criminal charges. I hope as well that they consider issues of criminal responsibility when he goes on trial (I can't imagine they won't). Most of all, I hope that this won't further stigmatizing conversations about mental illnesses, including the impact on both the person with the mental illness and their family. I'm not sure that will happen—often it seems as if there is a foregone conclusion that people with psychiatric diagnoses should be considered dangerous.