Murphy to host mental health forum

March 29, 2013
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy

Along with the discussions about gun control that have erupted in the weeks since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., there’s been a parallel, if less heated, conversation about mental illness.

Getting a consensus on whether guns kill people or people kill people might be tough, but there’s probably universal agreement that guns landing in the hands of people whose minds are clouded by delusions, depression or psychosis is something no one wants.

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, a onetime practicing child psychologist, will be hosting a forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the public meeting room at the Courthouse Square building called “After Newtown: A Community Conversation on Violence and Severe Mental Illness.” It follows on the heels of a forum in Washington, D.C., earlier this month that featured a panel of mental health experts, clinicians and researchers, as well as parents trying to cope with children who suffer from mental illness.

“These forums are an opportunity for Rep. Murphy to hear directly from local families who’ve dealt with the consequences of a child or family member with mental illness,” according to Amy Larkin, Murphy’s press secretary. “It is also an opportunity for audience participants to hear the experiences of these families, as well as experts in the mental health field and those in the community that are part of the violence prevention and treatment network.”

Murphy will be joined at the Washington forum by Mel Blount, the former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback and director of the Mel Blount Youth Home; Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone; Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi; Joe Zupancic, an attorney and member of Canon-McMillan School Board; Roberta DiLorenzo, superintendent of the Washington School District; and Abigail Schlesinger, who directs Outpatient Behavioral Health and Child and Family Counseling Center for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Murphy is the chairman of the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on oversight and investigations and favors additional research in neural and behavioral sciences and studies of how violent video games affect the people who partake of them.

A similar forum is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Mt. Lebanon Safety Center and will also include Blount and officials from Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon.

For more information, call 412-344-5583.

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. Brad holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from George State University in Atlanta, Ga., and a master’s in popular culture studies from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University. He has covered the arts and entertainment for the O-R, and also worked as a municipal beat reporter. He now serves as editorial page editor.

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