Moirin Webster was her son Kevin’s best advocate. She knew that schizophrenia is a disease of the brain. In a 2019 letter to Kevin’s caregivers at Sumac Place, she warned that if he were left untreated he was a danger to others.
About a year later, Moirin was dead, killed by her son when he was in a psychotic state. Most people with schizophrenia and psychotic disorders are not violent and are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence. But sometimes violence does occur and it’s these incidents that make the news. The events that precipitate these violent outbursts rarely get the same attention.
It is important to understand that violence associated with schizophrenia is a treatment issue. Kevin Webster was said to have persistent delusions and did not respond well to anti-psychotic medications. Two days before he killed his mother, Kevin sought treatment at Sechelt hospital but was denied admission because he could not explain why he was there.
Finding an effective anti-psychotic medication to treat the “positive” symptoms of the disease (delusions and hallucinations) is important, but people locked into psychosis require much more. B.C. does not have enough psychiatric hospital beds to keep people long enough to adequately assess their needs, much less to provide ongoing treatment.
Until the provincial government takes dramatic action to address this shortfall, the mentally ill — and their families — will continue to pay the price.
Anyone shaken by this tragic story can honour Moirin Webster’s memory by learning about mental illness, and by demanding our politicians end their neglect of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
To learn more, visit https://www.bcss.org/ or email email@example.com.
President, Board of Directors
BC Schizophrenia Society,
Sunshine Coast Branch