3 Noteworthy Events, Including Documentary That Chronicles Unnecessary Death of Linda Bishop

GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM (Trailer) from Brian Ariotti on Vimeo.

(2-26-16) I am delighted that filmmaker Brian Ariotti has made a documentary about the life and death of Linda Bishop. The film, which was shown this week at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, raises important questions about how we treat persons with serious mental illnesses.

I first heard about Linda Bishop’s death in late 2009 when I met her sister, Joan Bishop, after giving a speech in New Hampshire. I was horrified when Joan told me how her sister had died after being discharged by the New Hampshire State Hospital with no real follow up care. Shortly after meeting Joan, I published two blogs exposing the tragedy in February 2010. (see Linda’s Story Part One and Part Two.)

Within hours after Linda was discharged, she broke into an abandoned farmhouse where she survived on apples while waiting for divine guidance. Alone, psychotic and slowing starving herself to death, Linda kept a diary up to within a few weeks before her death.

Oct. 8
So this is my 5th day of freedom – basic synopsis – left NHH at 11 am…then into woods…So here I sit for the second day, have water and apples awaiting further instructions. Can’t walk too far on just apples. Don’t really want to talk to anyone and even attempt to explain the situation… Crying now. Just disappointed again. Don’t see how I can live on apples until Advent.

..Dec. 18th.
This is my 13th day without food. Fell yesterday when coming in from getting snow for water, hurt left knee, shoulder and cheekbone, writing this lying down – only time I feel good is when I am sleeping because then I forget.

It was estimated that she died sometime in January 2008 but her body wasn’t found until May. She had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

A year after I published Linda’s story on my blog, Rachel Aviv published an article in the New Yorker on May 30, 2011 about Linda’s plight. It was entitled: God Knows Where I Am.

That’s the same title that filmmaker Ariotti is using for his documentary which provides new details about Linda’s personal life and struggles with mental illness. From the moment Joan first told me about her sister, I’d hoped someone would tell this family’s story to a larger audience. And thanks to The New Yorker and Ariotti, that’s happening.

What’s disappointing is that little has improved legally since Linda’s death. Joan had no idea that her sister had been discharged until after Linda had disappeared. Hospital officials said HIPAA regulations kept them from informing her. No one bothered to search for Linda when she failed to report to a residential facility after she was discharged. Joan tried to find her sister but because Linda was an adult and wanted to avoid the mental health system, no one was alarmed. Linda Bishop’s daughter was awarded $275,000 in a wrongful death suit against the hospital that was settled in 2010. If you get a chance watch Ariotti’s film when it becomes more widely distributed.


Long time Reston community activist John Lovaas, who hosts a local cable television show called Reston Impact and served with me on a county Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission, told me this week that his son, Terry Loveman, is starring in a play that he directed and produced with local Washington D.C. actor  Michael Garvey, called The Zoo Story. Written by Edward Albbe in 1958, the play focuses on two characters, Peter and Jerry, who meet one day while sitting on a park bench in New York’s Central Park.

Peter (Garvey) is a mild-mannered, married, upper-class New Yorker with the stereotypical trappings of success. Jerry (Loveman) is a lonely, underprivileged recluse from the seedy part of town. Although the play was written nearly 60 years ago, it exposes social issues and class differences that are still current.

The single-day performances will take place on Saturday, March 5th at 12 PM, 3 PM and 6 PM. at 1st Stage Theater located at 1524 Spring Hill Road McLean, VA 22102. Tickets are $15 for general admission, and a portion of sales will go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The single-act production lasts 1 hour.

D. J. Jaffe, who runs mentallillnesspolicy.org, has invited me to participate in a teleconference call Thursday, March 10 at 7PM EASTERN standard time. He’s calling it “An Evening with Pete Earley.”

This is a first for me, but Jaffe has assured me that anyone who wants to participate can dial (712) 775-7031 and use Access Code 715149.

It should be interesting.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.