The tragedy of maternal mental illness can often have devastating consequences, as evidenced by the case of Courtney Williams. A 26-year-old mother from Yuba County, California, Williams was found not guilty by reason of insanity after she drowned her two children in a bathtub last spring. The Yuba County District Attorney’s Office reported that a judge signed an order committing Williams to a state hospital on January 12, after a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.
The court appointed two doctors, one chosen by the prosecution and one by the defense, to evaluate Williams’ mental state. The doctors determined that Williams was suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis when she drowned her children, and concluded that she was insane at the time. The court accepted the new plea and found Williams not guilty by reason of insanity.
The Yuba County District Attorney’s Office reported that Williams can apply for release from the state hospital once medical professionals determine that her sanity has been restored and the court finds she is not a danger to others. District Attorney Clint Curry said in a statement, “It’s clear Courtney Williams was suffering from serious mental health issues and didn’t receive the help she so desperately needed, and it’s heartbreaking that her children had to pay the ultimate price.”
This case is a tragic reminder of the importance of recognizing and seeking help for maternal mental health issues. Postpartum Support International offers resources for those in need. If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression or another mental health issue, please reach out for help.