Circuit Riders for Mental Health: The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas

By William S. Bush | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Out of Sight, Out of Mind

One evening in January 2015, a seventeen-year-old woman named Kristiana Coignard walked into a police station in Longview, Texas, and requested to speak with a police officer. When three officers arrived in the lobby, they noticed that Coignard had a kitchen knife in her belt and the words “I Have a Gun” written on her hand. Video surveillance subsequently released to the public showed a sequence of events that lasted for about twenty minutes. In the video, Coignard can be seen being restrained and then released, brandishing her knife at the officers, and finally charging the officers with the knife in hand. The incident ended with multiple gunshots to Coignard’s chest, resulting in her death. Media reports expressed confusion over the reasons for Coignard’s actions and outrage at what many perceived as an excessive use of force. Coignard’s lack of a criminal record or any history of violent behavior caused some observers to lump the incident in with other controversial police shootings of civilians in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. As it had in those more notorious cases, the hacker group Anonymous launched a cyber-attack against the Longview police department’s website; in fact, several of the Longview city agency websites were hacked and unavailable as a result. The release of video footage of the incident did little to quell matters. Indeed, after viewing the Longview police video, Coignard’s father, a former correctional officer himself, lambasted the officers for their inability to restrain his teenage daughter without the use of firearms. The officers “shouldn’t have allowed the situation to escalate the way it did,” he concluded. “My daughter should still be alive.”1

Within days of the shooting, it was reported that Coignard had lived with mental illness for much of her brief life. In an interview given to the website Think Progress, Coignard’s aunt revealed that her biological mother had died when she was four years old and that she had struggled with bipolar disorder and depression for “most of her life.” A native of San Antonio, Coignard had been hospitalized twice following suicide attempts and had moved

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Circuit Riders for Mental Health: The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction - Out of Sight, out of Mind 1
  • 1 - "A Mental Health Program for the People of Texas" 9
  • 2 - Spreading the Gospel of Mental Health in the 1940s and 1950s 29
  • 3 - "A Real Revolution in Mental Health Concepts" 56
  • 4 - Branching out 85
  • 5 - "This Most Urgent of All Health Problems" 111
  • 6 - The Unfinished Revolution, 1970-2000 136
  • Epilogue - People First 155
  • Notes 159
  • Bibliography 191
  • Index 199
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