• Woman gave 4-year-old, self overdose after being denied mental health care, family says

    By: Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk


    A New Orleans woman is accused of overdosing her 4-year-old daughter and herself on narcotic pain medication in an attempted murder-suicide, and her family claims she tried multiple times in vain to get mental health care before the incident. 

    Debbie P. Johnson, 41, is charged with attempted murder in the incident, according to Orleans Parish Jail records. She is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond. 

    Court documents obtained by NOLA.com allege that Johnson was arguing with family members March 10 about the living arrangements at their home. At some point after the argument, she walked into a relative’s bedroom and said she and her daughter had taken several hydrocodone pills. 


    She said “she was killing herself and taking her 4-year-old daughter with her,” the court documents allege

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    A relative called 911, and both Johnson and her daughter were taken to a hospital for treatment. According to WDSU in New Orleans, Johnson swallowed six of the pills and she forced her daughter to take four pills.

    Police officers wrote in the arrest warrant that Johnson’s daughter told detectives her mother “told her she was going to die with her and gave her some nasty stuff to take,” NOLA.com reported. The pills were not enough to kill the girl, but investigators allege that was Johnson’s intent, WDSU said

    “The child cried (in the hospital) and stated she did not want to die,” the arrest warrant says.  

    If released from jail, Johnson has been ordered to stay away from the girl, court records show.

    Johnson’s mother told WDSU her daughter has tried in vain since the beginning of the year to get treatment for severe depression. She was denied treatment at two different facilities because of a lack of an opening, the news station said. 

    “I asked them that she wanted to have psych treatment, and they said that they didn’t have any beds,” said Johnson’s mother, who asked not to be shown on camera or identified. 

    “She knew she was suffering from depression and tried to get help?” the reporter asked

    “She was,” her mother responded. 

    Johnson’s mother said it wasn’t her daughter trying to kill her granddaughter.

    “That wasn’t her that was doing that, that night. It wasn’t her,” the woman said. “She loved her more than she loved herself.”

    The mother and grandmother said she hopes her daughter can get help while she is being held in jail, WDSU reported

    If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. Both provide free, 24/7 confidential support to people in distress and provide them, or their loved ones, with support, information and local resources.


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