An Evening at Fisher Island and an Afternoon at Magianno’s by Joan E. Childs

Joan E. Childs, LCSW and Inspirational Keynote Speaker presents, Woman of the 21st Century at Maggiano’s

Joan E. Childs, LCSW, and Inspirational Keynote Speaker present, Life after Loss: A journey of 6 steps at Fisher Island. Images include: Joan E. Childs, LCSW and Production Team Georgina DiSalvo and Jonathan DiSalvo



An Evening at Fisher Island and an Afternoon at Magianno’s February and March were great months for speaking. I had the privilege of presenting LIFE AFTER LOSS at Fisher Island in February at the invitation of Scott Vogel, the Spa’s director and at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant, where I presented WOMEN OF THE 21st CENTURY by request from Eileen Cohen who is on the board for the Women’s Empowerment Networking Group. The response to both was wonderful. My presentation at Fisher Island reflected what I wrote in my book, WHY DID SHE JUMP? My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder. More than that, it addressed the cascade of grieve loved one’s experience after the loss. Several of the attendees had lost a loved one and were eager to hear my story and how I morphed from pain into purpose and passion. Fisher Island is one of the most exquisite communities in South Florida, perhaps even in the US and world. Having been a child of Miami Beach from the mid-forties and living across the street from Joe’s Stone Crabs as a child, often bewildered by the thought of why anyone would want to eat a crab made out of stone, I was flabbergasted to see what was once an island near the jetties that I climbed as a child. Set in Government Cut where the cruise ships pass by, this small island became the home to the rich and famous. Seventy plus years after those days went by, I was mystified by what Carl Fisher, the founder of Miami Beach envisioned and developed even after he was gone. Had he been alive today, we both would be stunned to see the manifestation of a dream come true. Ferrying from the dock to the island, I was in awe both coming and going. The backdrop of Miami in all its glory took my breath away. I had never seen it from that view. The lights of the city illuminated the majestic buildings that lined the bay with color and splendor. When had this happened, I had wondered. Cruising in our car, both Georgina, my technician, and webmaster, along with her husband, Johnny and I, stayed transfixed and dazed over the crossing, like three children mesmerized by something spectacular that had been seen for the very first time. We all felt as if we were transported into a surrealistic painting, drifting off into an altered state as if drugged. The movement of the ferry as we sat in the still of the car, felt like we were gliding across Biscayne Bay. Time stood still for me as we head back to the dock. As we approached the entrance to MacArthur Causeway, it felt as if I had taken my first breath since we departed. Our conversation back to my world never left the reflections we all shared and memories we made while visiting the enchanted Fisher Island. Soon after, one of the members who had attended my presentation, John, invited us back for a personal tour of the island. We were to meet at dockside to the spa to begin the tour. We parked close by one of the yachts that flanked the dock like a floating space ship. It was for me, the largest yacht I had ever seen. Asked if it was corporately owned, I was advised that it was owned solely by one of the members. After closing my jaw, we began the tour.

Joan E . Childs shares a personal story of loss and connection to Liza Long

I read the blog written by Liza Long with heartfelt sympathy and interest.   I too am a mother recovering from the loss of a daughter who suffered from mental illness.  No, she was not a murderer, a criminal or an evil person.  She was a loving devoted daughter, sister, friend and clinical therapist holding both an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and Ph.D. in psychology.  She loved life, her work, her patients, her family and her friends.   She was sick and suffered from Bipolar I Disorder for ten years before she leaped to her death on July 2, 1998.  She was thirty-four years old.

Pam fought her illness tenaciously.  To her, they were demons brought to her by a demonic force she referred to as the devil.  They took up residence in her mind, and as the years progressed they slowly devoured her mind, her spirit and her life.  Pam did not choose to jump; the demons pushed her out the window.

Mental illness takes many forms and many diagnoses, most of which take a skilled psychiatrist to determine, as many mental disorders have co-morbidity, (symptoms that resemble another diagnosis’, such as schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder.)  It takes the time to obtain a differential diagnosis.  Until a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan cannot be implemented, not unlike any other illness.

Pam was the eldest of my five children.  She never revealed any symptoms of mental illness until she had her first break when she was twenty-four years old.  By this time, she was half way through her doctorate, working at the John Bradshaw Center in Hollywood, California as a therapist and was considered to be a “wizard” therapist.  The center was an in-patient treatment facility for recovering addicts and mood disorders caused primarily from abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment during their childhood.  Pam was a leading therapist, running groups and seeing the patients in individual sessions.  Her work was heralded by the staff, the patients, and John Bradshaw.

The illness insidiously crept in upon her slowly, steadfastly and with a force that ripped away all reason and rationality while it wove a delusionary system that was unshakable.  As the years passed, Pam was no longer the same vivacious, charming, charismatic young woman that made everyone who knew her fall in love with her.  As the invasion of this illness progressed, all that was before was no more.  Instead, only a shell of a woman who had seemingly lost her mind and spirit remained as my daughter.  Her soul passed before her body.

In my book, WHY DID SHE JUMP: My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder that was just released on June 16, 2014, I describe how this illness became her cancer; resistant to all treatment as her belief system prevented her from taking the medicine prescribed.  However, when she did, she turned into a zombie, unable to function and barely get out of bed.  In her twisted mind, she concluded that the medications were agents of the devil and managed to avoid taking them.  As a result, her illness gained strength and her mind lost contact with reality.  Oh, there were lucid moments, but the prevailing theme was insanity by the loss of reality.  The examples will be revealed in the book as well as the torture we, her family were all subjected to.  The worst of it was that there was no place for her to get the treatment she needed.

I wrote a letter to Oprah that became the preface to my book.  I described the trials and tribulations in depth, blaming the health system in our country as one of the leading causes of her death, claiming that my daughter was unable to obtain treatment that could have easily saved her life.    I urged Oprah to do a program on this issue stating that this was not just my child, but everyone’s child who has been stricken with this hideous disease.  I copied it to Hillary Clinton, our congresswoman Elaine Bloom at that time, Senators Bob Graham and Connie Mack.  None responded.  The Miami Herald published my letter, thanks to Sue Reisinger who felt a need to share this tragedy with her readers.

This was sixteen years ago.  Now we are facing a nation who has the worst record for healing our mentally ill citizens.  We had to wait for one tragedy after another to occur for people to start screaming about guns and the atrocities committed on innocent people, worst of all little children as well as the atrocious care of the mentally ill.  My beautiful daughter fell through the cracks because there was no facility that she could be given proper treatment.  How many lives to we have to lose before we get it?  What price do we have to pay to have our voices heard?  My daughter was not rich, nor was she poor.  She worked for a living, was raised in a home with a father who is a physician and a mother, a clinical social worker.  Yet with the vast network of friends and colleagues, we both had, we were rendered helpless, powerless and finally hopeless in securing the help she needed.

I don’t own a gun and no nothing about them.  Frankly, I would be terrified to have one in my home.  I live alone and cannot imagine ever using one, fearing that my life would be more at risk having one in my hand, than not.  Perhaps I am gullible, but owning a gun does not make me feel safe.  In fact, I would feel more vulnerable because the gunman would most probably be a better marksman than I.  Guns are only part of the problem.  We need to change our culture and cultivate more loving, caring and sensitive communities exhibiting kindheartedness to our fellow man.  We must provide a safe environment where our loved ones stricken with mental illness can go to get help.  Psychotropic drugs and therapy do help, but in order to maintain treatment, patients have to be in a long term treatment center as opposed to being admitted for 24-48 hours in a psychiatric ward In some hospital only to be released within a day or two, which by the way, makes them worse.

My story is not just about my loss, sorrow, grief and despair.  It is the story of our country, which loses thousands of loved ones every year either by suicide or homicide because they were not cared for in an environment that could support their healing.  It’s time for a real change; change in our health system, change in our gun laws, and most of all change in our culture.

Pamela Anne Glassman: An Angel to Remember – My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder By Joan E Childs

Angel to Remember
Pamela Anne Glassman


Angel to Remember

She was breathtakingly beautiful, brilliant and bewitching!  She was passionate, powerful and precocious.  Her power to heal transcended anyone’s imagination.  She was a goddess, a seductress, a sleuth, seeker of the truth and transformer.  Pamela was a magician and worked her magic on all the wounded souls who had the good fortune to be in her presence and professional care.  She was relentless to a fault, persistent, driven by internal forces that were challenging to temper.  She stood her ground no matter the consequences, drew the lightening to herself to exorcise her patients who had been ravaged during their childhood.  She was Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, Helen of Troy and Pami Annie Daisy, all rolled up in one sensational being.  She was a loving sister, a dedicated therapist, a compassionate friend, her Daddy’s little girl and my precious daughter.  We lost her to bipolar disorder and a dysfunctional sub-standard health system that today, still exists.

Her Birthday

October 1 was her birthday.  She would have been 53 years old.  Our lives were changed forever on that fateful morning eighteen years ago, when her mental illness pushed her out the window of a 15 story building.  Pami would never have made that decision.  She loved life, her family, friends, colleagues and clients, who until today, have never forgotten her life force and the impact she made on their lives. Her mental illness won the battle for life.  It sentenced her to death. It invaded her brain like a midnight stalker that slowly, surreptitiously, and steadfastly eroded her thought processes to believe she had been chosen as a mediator between God and Lucifer.  She had been made to believe that the devil was going to take her soul and cried out for help that never came.  Instead, she fell through the cracks of a system that failed her and so many others with mental illness.

Coping with the Grief

How could that have happened?  Why did she plunge fifteen stories to her death? What were the tortured thoughts that executed that decision?    I will never know.  I will never get closure.  This I have accepted.  I will never have the answer to those questions and more; this too I have accepted.  What I can never accept is the apathetic attitude our country has towards mental illness.   I made a choice never to be a victim.  I made a decision not to accept being just a survivor.  I chose to be a Phoenix, like the mythological bird that rises from the ashes to make a mission out of my loss; a loss that affected so many others and a loss that is pervasive in our country.  I want to eradicate the shame and stigma from mental illness.  I want to be a change agent for everyone who struggles with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.  I want to help families who have lost a loved one through suicide due to a mental disorder.  I want to help the families of veterans who lost their husbands, wives, fathers, sons, mothers and daughters.  Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day.  This is an epidemic and must be treated.  Post- traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness that can and often does, lead to suicide.

Understanding the Loss, Celebrating Life!

Pami’s life and death must have meaning.  Her work and unyielding devotion to her patients must be honored.  It calls for action.  It calls for conscious raising.  It calls for help.  No longer can we look blindly away from reality.  No longer can we ignore the 6 plus million people in this country who suffer from bipolar disorder.  No longer can we look away from the 40, 000 suicides a year.  No longer can we maintain denial when we know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults from the ages of 18-25.  It is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.  There are more suicides than homicides.  How can we remain indifferent? Passive?  Disinterested?  It is only when we encounter a loved one who suffers from a mental illness do we become militant in our quest for help.

Become a Phoenix

When the children of Sandy Hope Elementary were murdered by a madman, the parents became vigilant in their effort to raise the conscious awareness of gun control.  It was when Peter Craig Alderman, the 25 year old young man lost his life in the World Trade Center on 9/11 that his parents became advocates for change and created a foundation in honor of their son’s truncated life.  It was when John Walsh’s young son was abducted and murdered that he became a vigilante for finding predators.  We all chose to become a Phoenix.  We all chose to make our children’s lives matter.


I wrote this blog two days after Pam’s birthday.  I was reflecting on the impact she made on others that eighteen years later, when I announced her birthday on Facebook, more than one hundred responses were yielded, all of whom remembered who she was and what she did to make this world a better place.  It is way past midnight as I close this blog.  I was driven to post it before too much time passes since it was posted on Facebook.  She would have loved to have known the impression she made on others and the legacy she left to those who knew her well.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Pami.  From all of us who were lucky to have known you.  May you rest in peace.

I am EXCITED to share a sneak peak and more insight to the building of my Speaking Career! Joan E. Childs, Inspirational Keynote Speaker


Joan E. Childs presents, LIFE AFTER LOSS: Victim, Survivor or the Phoenix? Your Choice! Barry University


I am excited to share some great news and a sneak peak with all my readers.  One of the reasons you haven’t heard from me for a while is because I’ve been busy launching my career as a professional speaker.  My most recent presentation at Barry University where I spoke to the students and some faculty was videotaped so I could share some of the highlights with you.

My topic, LIFE AFTER LOSS: Victim, Survivor or The Phoenix, was very well received by the attendees, all from the school of Social Work.  Some of the reviews are shown here to illustrate the impact it made on them and what they took away with their experience.  Although very young and just beginning their journey, I presented information that is endemic to their profession.  Part of their learning is how to help their clients deal with loss and grief.  It was also not surprising how many of them had already experienced the loss of a loved one.  When asked how many had lost a loved one, every hand went up.

So the take away is that death is inevitable, certain and an unavoidable, inexorable part of life.  No one escapes the loss of a loved one, be it a parent, sibling, child, family member, friend or even a pet.  Using the grief model, I shared how I coped with my own loss, my 34-year-old brilliant, beautiful daughter, Pam, who plunged to her death from her father’s 15th story building on July 2, 1998.  Although barely any of them are even parents, they understood every parent’s worst nightmare as I shared my journey through grief and healing.

I was clear to let them know that even though her death was considered suicide, it was not her choice.   Her executioner was her mental illness that pushed her out the window.  Having suffered from bipolar disorder 1 for more than ten years, Pam was delusional and succumbed to the illness that invaded her mind and destroyed her life.  Bipolar I and the substandard health system were the culprits who caused her to fall through the cracks and lose her life.

My mission has been to morph the pain into purpose and to take the shame and stigma out of mental illness.  It is to give my daughter’s life and death meaning as I help others who suffer from grief and loss.  The choice to be a victim, survivor or a Phoenix, the mythological bird that rises from the ashes, is ours.  I chose to become a Phoenix and by helping others, I continue to help myself.

Although I will never have closure, I have moved on and healed on my journey to recovery.

Book Marketing Buzz Blog interviews Joan E. Childs, Author and Inspirational Keynote Speaker

If you didn’t get the chance to read our latest Q&A with Joan E. Childs, Author, and Inspirational Speaker, here is your chance to read all about it!


A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Interview with author Joan E. Childs, LCSW

  1. What inspired you to write your book?

On July 2, 1998, my beautiful, brilliant daughter, Pam, plunged to her death from her father’s 15th story window.  The shock and grief gave way to a muse that compelled me to journal my feelings and thoughts.  I served as a catharsis.  I had no idea it would be a book.  Grievers are nocturnal.  My pain morphed into a purpose and seven years later, I recognized I had something to share with others who had experienced every parent’s worst nightmare.

  1. What is it about?

It is about my journey from shock and denial through all the stages of grief with bargaining being the only exception.  It was my personal experience that I shared unwittingly as a way of coping with my grief.  It begins at her funeral and takes you back through the trajectory of her fate from before diagnosis and treatment to her death.  I never believed that Pam would commit suicide.  It was her disease, Bipolar I that was her executioner and pushed her out the window.

  1. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?

Death of a loved one is inevitable, certain and an unavoidable and inexorable part of the human experience.  No one escapes.  The purpose of this book is to share “how to” find life after loss.  I learned to accept my daughter’s death and move on with life.  It is a story of tragedy.  It is my mission and how my pain morphed into purpose.

I, like many others made the choice to not just survive but chose to emulate The Phoenix, the mythological bird who rises from the ashes to grow stronger than before.  If I did this, so could others. By sharing my story of hope and courage with others who are suffering the loss of a loved one, I am also hopeful to wipe away the shame and stigma of mental illness.

  1. What advice do you have for writers?

Write what you know about and have experienced.  If it’s fiction, write it as if it’s not.  Be authentic.

  1. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?

I am not sure of how to answer this question.  It is nearly impossible to get published without a literary agent unless you are a known author.  Books are not unlike music or art.  They are food for the soul and with the advancement of technology, there are many ways to enjoy reading.

  1. What challenges did you have in writing your book?

I had none.  I let my heart write the words.  They spoke my truth and carried my message without conscious awareness. I never once thought that this would become a book.  It happened as a manifestation of my grief.  It is now being made into a movie.

  1. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?

My book is an existential, personal journey.  People who have suffered the loss of a child or loved one would find my story healing.  It would take courage to read it, but the challenge would be rewarding.

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In light of the recent anniversary of 911, Joan E. Childs, LCSW shares her take on “How Terrorism Terrorizes US” Image provided by


In light of the recently passed anniversary of 911, I felt compelled to share my take on how terrorism terrorizes us.  Terrorism is about psychology…It is about making ordinary people feel vulnerable, anxious, confused, uncertain and helpless (Philip Zimbardo, 2007).

New York, September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World

Nearly four years after September 11, 2001, an abstract was published online.  Its title: The Impact of Terrorism on Brain and Behavior: What We Know and What We Need to Know.  This abstract was based on papers presented by Paul Slovic, Rachel Yehuda, Edna Foa, Daniel Pine, Matthew Friedman, John Krystal, and Robert Ursano at the ACNP meeting in December 2003 (Yehuda & Human, 2005). This article draws attention to how terrorism continues to terrorize us so many years later.

Waking in the morning a bit stiff and sitting down with a cup of coffee not yet showered or perhaps already out the door to the office, one would expect the day to begin as it did the day before.  First the familiar taste of the coffee, then the dog walk, perhaps still in pajamas, to be followed by a morning shower, teeth brushing and shave.  After dressing in the clothes thoughtfully decided the night before, you hear your wife scream, scaring you half to death.  What follows after that was incredulous and forever changed all our lives.

Fifteen Years After

Fifteen years have passed since that eventful day.  Fourteen years filled with acts of terrorism too frightening for the American mind to conceive and explicate.  Three thousand people from many nations are trapped, crushed or burned to death as the Twin Towers disintegrate on the streets of lower Manhattan.  How is this deleterious event possible?  For days, weeks and months most of us are in shock, disbelief, scared and feeling perhaps an alien feeling that was never felt before.  The threat of terrorism coursed through our arteries, biology, psyche and neurology changing the colors of our mind forever.  How was something so unexpected, so inexplicable, incomprehensible going to affect our innocence? How would we ever get over this tragedy?  Well, in fact, most of us did, not however without a new paradigm shift installing into our psyche a new experience of fear never before known.

We had not yet recovered from the events of 9/11, when just four months later, Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter had been kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan, his throat slashed, and videotaped for the world to view.  The decapitation of Daniel Pearl left us paralyzed with fear that the world had gone mad and nobody was doing anything about it.

The Boston Marathon bombing was the 59th publicly known terror plot against the United States since 9/11 (Inserra & Walters, 2015). This brought terror back on our soil and it continued. The beheading of innocent men by some ominous figure disguised in black gear, displaying a machete, speaking with a barely audible English accent, delivering threats, created a visceral and guttural sensation throughout the civilized world.  We watched daily in shock and disbelief, this hideous event delivered by the media worldwide. The young women kidnapped and sold into slavery added to our tensions and fears of the insanity being perpetrated in a country unknown to many of us. These events were no longer just “over there”.  They were here in our homeland as well.  The threat of Isis had reached our nation as daily television reporting drowned our minds with inexplicable acts of terror.

Last week we learned of the 65th Islamist terrorist plot or attack intended for the US since 9/11. (Terrorist Plots Since 9/11: Lessons in Domestic Counterterrorism) Between 9/11 and last week our country suffered and will continue to be subject to ongoing violence and threats to annihilate us just because we are Americans. This is a value system that opposes everything our country imbibes and holds sacred to our beliefs. A life that is so precious to us holds no value to terrorism.

The Impact of Terrorism on our Psyche

So, the question is, how does the chronicity of threats and attacks impact our psyche?  Our country was designed and created on the principles of freedom; freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the Bill of Rights.  The foundation of our country was built on these principles; that all men are created equal; that we have an inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.  As children, we learned the pledge of allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner, and America the Beautiful.  We grew up on a legacy given to us by our founding fathers.  When an outside force perforates our system and tries to take away what we hold true to our heritage and hearts; what our soldiers fought and died for, we experience trauma as a nation that had never before existed.

How does terrorism affect us personally and as a nation?  We know that psychological effects wield strong and pervasive effects on the neurobiological systems.  Our reptilian brain goes into fight or flight when we feel fear.  It trumps our neocortex and frontal lobes.  Fear dominates reasoning.   We know too well that PTSD is a common response to something we either witness and/or experience physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually that assaults our essence as human beings and as a country.

Too often the violence perpetrated on us creates a state of shock and grief that may linger for weeks, months and years.  Some never recover.  Those closest to the events will, of course, have the hardest time to recover.  Those of us who are more directly affected by a terrorist act, have a far greater the risk of developing psychopathology.  The rippling effects of terrorism manifest in various ways, depending on the genetic/nature and life experiences of each individual.  Our heightened awareness of these attacks and impending disasters coupled with the sensationalism of the media has kept us anxious, restless and apprehensive.

There is a collective unconscious as a people that swell with fear, anger and inconsolable grief and plays out differently for each of us depending on our personal history and biology.  Regardless of these factors, we all feel the tragedy to a greater or lesser extent in our bodies and minds.  Each of us has different coping styles and levels of tolerance.  Following terrorist attacks, many Americans reported symptoms of fatigue, poor concentration, sleeping disturbances, depression, and anxiety.  Anger, loss of appetite, loss of libido and a general apathy were also noted.  It was as if the country numbed out in order to survive these unfathomable experiences or obsessed about these acts of violence, often spawning feelings of hopelessness including suicidal ideation.  Aberrant behaviors are not uncommon.   Addictive behaviors in alcohol and drug abuse increased.

Parents became frightened for their children’s safety in school and at events.  A healthy paranoia developed that infiltrated and disrupted our sense of peace of mind.  Hyper-vigilance permeated airports as well as air travel. The obvious precautions taken at sports events, concerts, and shopping malls were visible to the public changing the landscape of our country.

Home security made us more aware that times had changed forever.  We were at war with an enemy that could no longer be recognized.  Homegrown terrorists were out to destroy us as we innocently left our homes each morning heading to work, taking our kids to school, running marathons and sitting in coffee shops with our friends, computers, and colleagues.  The terrorists were accomplishing their goals; to terrorize us, make us vulnerable, and create a climate of fear never before experienced.

As Europe was being attacked, our awareness of the possibility of the same intensified.  Racial profiling was not even necessary anymore because we did our own racial profiling as a self-protective response to the terrorist’s attacks. There was an escalation in prejudice against Islam.  Our trust and innocence were compromised and our nation became cautious and guarded.  Many people were fearful of air travel and traveling outside of the country.  As these acts of terrorism continued abroad we became reluctant to visit countries that once were on our wish lists. We became confused and fearful of the unknown.  The terrorists were accomplishing their goals.

A New Landscape: The Good News

Just as we survived Viet Nam, Pearl Harbor, Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, we will find ways to survive this crisis.  Just as we mourned the murder and loss of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy, we will recover and rise above these atrocities. Just as we endured the Cuban Missile Crisis, the race riots, and the war on drugs, we will persist with the war on terrorism.  Not unlike children, we too are resilient.  We have always faced adversity head on with defiance, hope, and faith.  We are a nation of fighters and survivors and will determinedly battle the war on terrorism.


Brown, L. M., Beutler, L. E., Breckenridge, J. N., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2007). Psychology of terrorism (pp. 3-12). New York: Oxford University Press.

Inserra, D., & Walters, R. (2015) 65th Islamist Terrorist Plot or Attack Since 9/11: Persistent Terrorism Requires Constant Vigilance, The Heritage Foundation, Issue Brief #4378

Yehuda, R., & Hyman, S. E. (2005). The impact of terrorism on the brain, and behavior: what we know and what we need to know. Neuropsychopharmacology, 30(10).






Please check out Darline Pistocchi’s article as posted by the Hollywood Gazette

2011-11-26 07-42-11.293

Darlene Pistocchi Community Correspondent at Hollywood Gazette Darlene is a professional writer, voice-over and performing arts specialist Image provided by Hollywood Gazette

Joan E. Childs has been in private practice as a psychotherapist (LCSW) for nearly 40 years in Broward and Dade counties. She is also a resident of Hollywood for the past fourteen years living in West Lake Village and the mother of five. Sadly, she lost her eldest daughter, Pamela, when she was just 34 years old.

“On July 2, 1998, my beautiful, brilliant daughter, Pamela Ann Glassman, a clinical psychologist and social worker, leaped to her death from her father’s 15th story window.  She battled bipolar disorder for ten years,” shares Childs. “When in a delusional state, the disease pushed her out the window.  I don’t believe my daughter committed suicide; it was her illness that was her executioner.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for all ages, ahead of homicide which is ranked 17th, and takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year and 800,000 worldwide according to the World Health Organization.

 “As a child, Pam was precocious, lovable and adored by her family,” recalls Childs. “She did not exhibit any mental disorder until she was in high school; however, it went completely unrecognized as a mental disorder for many years.”

Childs says Pam appeared more like a typical contrary teenager with bad habits that included sloppiness, haughtiness, being confrontational and telling lies.  Her behavior became intolerable and after a confrontation between the two, Pam picked up and left home in November of her junior year to live with her father.

“There was no way I was able to convince her to stay and complete her junior year. She was a cheerleader, in Thespians and had many friends who tried desperately to convince her to stay and work it out with me.  But we were all powerless and in a split decision, she left her siblings and me. It was a shock to all of us and my heart was shattered when she refused to reconsider.”

Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year; with suicide as the 2nd leading cause of death in young people from the ages 15-25, according to the CDC.

“It takes about 10 years to make a differential diagnosis for Bipolar Disorder,” explains Childs. “There are no tests to determine a diagnosis.  Today there is a spectrum.  We know of Bipolar I and Bipolar II, but now are convinced that there is a spectrum including I, II, III and IV depending on the symptoms and interview.  It is a very difficult diagnosis to determine because it mimics so many other psychiatric disorders.  Obtaining a differential diagnosis takes a skilled psychiatrist and a lot of time.  It’s a treacherous mental disorder often causing suicide in very violent fashion.”

Pam did move on with her education and graduated from University of Missouri, then attended Adelphi College where she received her Masters in Social Work and later a PhD in Clinical Psychology in L.A.   She was extremely successful as a psychotherapist where she worked for the John Bradshaw Institute in L.A.

“John referred to her as ‘a wizard therapist’,” shares Childs, “drawing the lightening to herself to help her patients who were there due to childhood traumas that were interfering with their lives as adults.  Many had been using drugs and alcohol as a way of self- medicating.  When they were sober, Pam would do the Inner Child work and teach them new ways to define themselves.  Her work was transformational.”

At 24, Pam came back to South Florida for a short time to be hospitalized.

“Her roommates contacted me to advise me that her behavior had been inappropriate and frightening.  They were extremely worried about her and could not continue to live with her due to her messiness and rapid mood changes.  They suggested she come home to be treated.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment.

“Depression is a very devious disorder,” shares Childs.  “It comes in many different forms. Looking back through a rear view mirror, it was easy to recognize that something was not right.  Even in her therapeutic modalities, Pam was extreme, taking chances that most therapists would not do.  She broke down her patient’s defense mechanisms while drawing out the trauma that was stuck inside their brains. Fortunately, they were in a safe environment while she performed miracles, as they would say.”

What are Some Warning Signs?

“Watch for grades sliding, social changes like a loss of friends, not wanting to attend school or work, drug and alcohol use and abuse to numb out and self-medicate,” explains Childs. “Suicidal ideation, cutting, loss of appetite, staying in their rooms too much, isolating, lack of hygiene, overt sexuality, changes in their personality from vivacious to sullen.  Listen to their tone and attitude. Any changes from their normal behavior that sustains itself for a long period of time is suspicious.”

“I saw my daughter change from a beautiful, intelligent, successful woman into a regressive, frightened little child fearful that the devil was going to take her soul. She was hallucinating and fearing for her life that would be taken by the devil.”

These additional signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Pam passed when she was 34 years old.  She was born in North Miami Beach on October 1, 1963, and appeared to be a normal, healthy, engaging, bright and precocious as a child.

“She had a charismatic personality,” shares Childs. “She was adored by her father, her siblings, her teachers, friends, grandparents, and of course me. I survived every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Childs says she had to make a choice. “Was I going to become a victim of this tragedy?  Would I simply survive and move on?  Or would I choose to take this loss and turn it into something that would make my daughter’s life and death meaningful and raise the conscious awareness of mental illness?”

Childs chose to be a PHOENIX, “not unlike the mythological bird that rises from the ashes to become stronger and more empowered.”


“This has become my mission,” she states. “To share my story and help others who have suffered similar tragedies, whether from mental illness or any other loss of a loved one caused by any other reason.”

After seven years, the culmination of Childs’ anguish became a book, Why Did She Jump? My Daughter’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder, which can be purchased at Health Communications, INC,   or ordered in any Barnes & Noble.  For more information visit Child’s website.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area,anytime 24/7.

Keynote Inspirational Speaker – Review by Christine Williams

Review Key Means Revaluate Or ReassessAs a member of Compassionate Friends of Boca Raton, a bereaved parents support group, I was pleased to meet Joan Childs at our last meeting.

She spoke to our group about the tragic loss of her daughter and what she went through. She was very cordial and composed but I could feel her compassion for us, also, as bereaved parents.

Ms. Child’s was very professional in her answers regarding prolonged grief and treatment recommendations. She was very thorough in her explanations of the grief process and offered hope in spite of our deep feelings of loss and grief.

I am looking forward to reading her book, “Why did She Jump”.

I will also recommend her to other compassionate friends groups, as she was very helpful in validating many of my erratic emotions during my grieving process.

Christine Williams

Keynote Inspirational Speaker – “Enlightening talk” REVIEW By President, Edna Einhorn NAMI Broward, Inc

Review Key Means Revaluate Or ReassessI am writing thank you for your enlightening talk on Mental Health and the issues that caused the greatest tragedy in your life, the death by suicide of your daughter  Pam.   Our members and friends  learned about Pam and her struggle with Bi-Polar disorder and how suddenly your life was changed. We saw the emotion and still constant pain that you are living with even today. We also learned about the signs  of a potential suicide and steps to take to help to prevent it.

Thank you very much for teaching us about suicide and bi-polar disorder.  I recommend that everyone should hear this story or read the book, “Why did She Jump”, to learn more about

these very important topics.



Edna Einhorn

President, NAMI Broward, Inc


2016 Thank You Joan Childs-page-001 (2)

Written REVIEW letter by Edna Einhorn President, NAMI Broward, Inc

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

Mental Illness defined by NAMI

Mental Illness defined by NAMI


This perhaps is the most common question asked after someone commits suicide and the most difficult one to answer. In her recent article, Sanity Break, Therese Borchard likens suicide to sneezing: something you can’t help, an impulse that has a life of its own. Although I agree in some cases; not in all. There are so many mitigating circumstances as to why someone chooses to end their life, that one simple answer is not enough. In the case of my daughter a clinical psychologist who leaped to her death from her father’s 15th story window, I am convinced that she was in a delusionary system unaware of that impulse when she made that choice. She was the victim of bipolar I disorder, an insidious illness that I believe was her executioner. By the time her illness reached the level of paranoia and delusional thinking, I don’t believe she was present at the time of her death. Her brain had ruptured, causing her to lose all conscious processes, perhaps not too dissimilar to Ms. Borchads’ belief, however, not exactly like a sneeze. In addition, I have worked with many depressed clients who have shared their suicidal ideation with me and clearly had a plan and desire to end their lives. Some were saved through the process of medical management and therapy, and some left well thought out notes explaining their reasons with apologies for hurting loved ones left behind. So in my thirty-seven years of clinical practice as a psychotherapist, I am not sure that suicide is just like a sneeze; sometimes perhaps, certainly not always.
I am convinced that suicide is perhaps one of the most threatening issues we are faced with as a nation. We hear about ISIS as a threat to our country, but what about bipolar disorder, depression and suicide? There are more than 6 million people in our country who suffer from bipolar disorder, and more than 9% have depression. There have been more than 40,000 suicides a year and the 10th leading cause of death and 2nd leading cause of death in the young adult age group of 16-25 according to the CDC. There are more suicides in the US than homicides. There are twenty-two suicide deaths committed daily by US veterans. Not that ISIS is not a serious threat, and perhaps not even something to be compared to, but suicide is a threat that we can predict and substantiate with statistics and yet more time, energy and media coverage is dealing with the possibility and perhaps the likelihood of a threat from a demonic force that perhaps may cause a tragedy if something isn’t done to prevent it. Well, not unlike ISIS, if something isn’t done to prevent suicide and create a better mental health system, we are going to see more deaths from suicide right here on our shores then the impending deaths that are yet to happen. We need a strategy for suicide prevention as much as a strategy to disempower ISIS. Our kids, husbands, wives, lovers, grandparents, daughters, and sons are jumping out of windows, strangling themselves, blowing their brains out or slashing their wrists every day on our shores yet more attention is given to ISIS than to our mentally ill citizens living, working and fighting for our country. I think there is something wrong with this picture!
Joan E Childs, LCSW
Author of WHY DID SHE JUMP? My Daughter’s Battle With Bipolar Disorder