David Kazcynski Speaks with Belmont Students about Mental Illness and the Death Penalty

Nearly 250 students gathered on March 30th at Belmont University for an event sponsored by NAMI TN and the Belmont Psychology Club featuring  David Kazcynski. David spent nearly an hour sharing about his brother Ted and the mental illness that would lead Ted Kaczynski to become known as the “Unabomber.”

During the presentation, David spoke about always knowing his big brother was special–given his intelligence and genius in the area of mathematics–and the extreme difficulty he and his family faced once they came to the realization that their brother, their son, could be the most wanted man in America.

While talking about his own experiences, he also spoke about of the nature of his brother’s illness and how, even at a very young age, Ted exhibited tendencies of what would later be diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia.  He also reflected on facing the decision to turn his brother in to authorities with his suspicions about Ted’s involvement in mail bombings that had been occurring for 17 years –a decision that he knew could lead to his brother’s death.  And, though the death penalty was sought in this case, Ted Kaczynski ultimately received life without the possibility of parole. He continues to live as a prisoner, not only of a supermax facility, but also of his own mind.  Ted cut off all ties to his family, and they have not seen him since the trial.

Students lined up with to speak with David following the event, some sharing personal stories of family members suffering with severe mental illness  and others commenting on how impacted they were by the presentation. David’s story reminds us that so many families are touched by mental illness and how we continue to execute people who struggle with such diseases.

David also appeared on the Channel 5 Plus show Morning Line.  See a portion of his interview here.

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