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Police say mom tried to kill her two kids with toilet bowl cleaner (UPDATED)

Police say a Florida mom tried to kill herself and her two small children by forcing them to drink toilet bowl cleaner. While this incident is terrifying, fortunately the kids and their mom-of-the-year survived.

Amelia West, mother of a 3-month-old baby and a 2-year-old toddler, was arrested over the weekend after authorities say she tried to off them all with a common household toilet bowl cleaner. I’ve unfortunately come across many terrible tales of parents murdering their children, and I’m thrilled this individual was not successful.

The children were taken to a hospital for treatment and were later released to family members, while Mom faces charges of two counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated child abuse. A neighbor reports that West didn’t spend much time playing with the children outside and kept to herself.

The motive has yet to be discovered or announced, but it’s possible she was suffering from mental illness, such as postpartum psychosis. Many women who murder their children are later found to have hallmarks of this serious mental illness, and while it doesn’t excuse their actions at all, it can give some insight as to why they committed these horrid crimes. A neighbor who was interviewed speculated the same — that West needed help but failed to reach out for it.

Unfortunately mental illness in this country continues to have a stigma that keeps some who suffer from admitting they need help and actively seeking it. And while many physicians are trained to recognize the signs, it’s possible West concealed her true feelings or avoided seeing a doctor for regular visits altogether.

Alternatively, she may have just grown tired of the work her children required, and wanted a quick exit from this world. In any case, I’m just happy she didn’t have anything more lethal around than toilet bowl cleaner (assuming she didn’t want to stab them with kitchen knives). Trying to get a small child to drink something noxious would have to be extremely difficult, which played out in their favor.

It’s a sad situation all around, but hopefully these children are going to get the care and love they deserve and need, and their mother should also be thoroughly evaluated for possible mental illness and get the help she needs as well. Healthy people don’t try to murder their babies and toddlers. And in a perfect world, we’d know if someone needed help. But until mental illness is more widely recognized, diagnosed and treated without stigma, it may be too little, too late.

Updated: 11.04.2014: 

A new report states that Amelia West also ingested toilet bowl cleaner in a failed suicide attempt.

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