SPRINGFIELD, Mo., March 13, 2017 — Drury University and NAMI Southwest Missouri are teaming up to bring speaker Joan Becker to Springfield next week. Becker will share her family’s gut-wrenching story about finding help for their son, Mark, whose struggle with paranoid schizophrenia led to a loss of life that made national headlines.
Becker will speak at 7 p.m., Monday, March 20 at the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library, 2214 Brentwood Boulevard.
Becker speaks regularly to colleges, churches, NAMI groups, and mental health providers. In 2015, she published a book about her family’s experience with mental illness titled “Sentenced to Life: Mental Illness, Tragedy and Transformation.” The mother of five was thrust into the national spotlight when Mark took the life of a beloved local football coach. The coach, Ed Thomas, was known across the country. The story was covered by ESPN and other national media. A 10-minute documentary about incident aired as part of the 2010 ESPY Awards.
Though she will cover a range of topics related to mental illness awareness, Becker will emphasize how challenging the process of attempting to secure care can be for both the individual and their family.
Becker will be available for one-on-one media interviews Monday just prior to the speaking event. Contact Ed Derr to make interview arrangements.
Drury is an independent University, church related, grounded in the liberal arts tradition and committed to personalized education in a community of scholars who value the arts of teaching and learning. Education at Drury seeks to cultivate spiritual sensibilities and imaginative faculties as well as ethical insight and critical thought; to foster the integration of theoretical and practical knowledge; and to liberate persons to participate responsibly in and contribute to a global community.