By Nick Stamatakis
Just a look at the photo of Peter Zisopoulos, 34, an Astoria resident, is enough to tell you that this person is mentally ill. You will read the news below from NY Post, and it is certainly a big tragedy: Zisopoulos stabbed 20 times (!!) FDNY Lt Alison Russo-Elling, in the middle of the day, just a block or two away from his home. The FDNY Lt was just 6 months away from retirement… You can link here for some of the details of his arrest...
Please allow me a couple of notes on mental illness, both in general and as related to our community.
- As most of you know, most “homeless” people are either mentally ill or suffer from drug addiction – or both. People in the most severe categories must be identified and removed from society when there is no family to take care of them and administer the necessary medicine regularly. In New York, such was the case until 1996, when the corrupt politicians of NY State decided to close down major psychiatric hospitals on the pretense that they were unnecessary and that there were medical drugs that could help them live a normal life. One of these centers is a few miles away from my base on Long Island, and I have personal knowledge of the situation. I am referring to Kings Park Psychiatric Center, which is now closed. When it closed in 1996, it had enough building space to house three times the current homeless population of NYC. Please link here and look at the now abandoned facilities overlooking Long Island Sound, in a truly majestic area… If you know nothing about its past, you may think it used to be a hotel or vacation spot… And yet the corrupt politicians abandoned it and let the “homeless” roam the NYC streets and subways. Are they thinking of re-opening it after re-constructing the now uninhabitable buildings? No chance… “Developers” are gathering like crows around Albany to grab this beautiful piece of land for pennies on the dollar… And “non-profits” are profiting “bigly” from the scheme of “supporting the homeless”… Zisopoulos and other mentally ill people belong to places like this; in earlier times, they used to be called “sanatoriums”…
- We Greek-Americans have to take this opportunity to contemplate our ethnic roots and mental illness. This goes back to ancient times, of course… Does anyone remember Sigmund Freud’s most famous book, “Introduction to Psychoanalysis”? It’s filled with ancient Greek examples, theories, ideas, and concepts. But let me tease you a bit more: What do you think is the first word of Homer’s Iliad? It is the word “μήνις” (pronounced “menis”), which means “anger”… Homer was describing Achilles’s anger… And now you know where “mania” came from… Yes, Peter Zisopoulos has been described in today’s news as a “maniac,” stabbing the old lady 20 times…
- But in the age of DNA stories, when we know our origins go back at least 3-4,000 years, and they are tied to a specific “population pool”, shouldn’t we rethink our DNA make-up? We keep one-sidedly touting our – certainly exceptional – intelligence, which no doubt we can easily detect in many of our children. I can write books about our “Greek brains” and the genesis of mathematics and all science; Yes, we are a bit “smarter” than other ethnicities – no doubt at all. And we have the statistics to prove it. But don’t we recognize the proverbial truth that “high intelligence and mental illness are just a few steps apart”? Please watch the wonderful film “A Beautiful Mind”, about a famous mathematician struggling with schizophrenia (another significant Greek word…)
- Then, when you think about our DNA make-up, we have many reasons to be concerned: Our past as an ethnic group during these 4,000 years has certain important trends that we have to consider as suspicious factors in mental illness. A prime example is migration. From the mythical times of Odysseus, Greek families lived apart for prolonged periods of time. Don’t we think that thousands of years of habitual migration and separation left their mark on our DNA in some form of “inscribed” depression – at the minimum? About 30% of all our folk songs and literature, starting with “Odyssey” talk about migration another third is about love, and the rest talk about death… Trust me, these ratios are very different in other ethnic groups. Then add to the “Odysseus” story four thousand years of barbaric foreign invasions, resulting in catastrophic wars and killings, several more civil wars over the centuries and prolonged periods of famine, and oh… I left out the horrendous earthquakes and volcanic explosions which destroyed our first civilization in Crete, 3,500 years ago… And shook Athens to its foundations with a 7.2 earthquake as late as 1981… My friends, we should be very sensitive and ready to recognize the signs of mental illness among us quickly. Other ethnicities have their special concerns when it comes to mental illness. But the right thing is to accept the above facts and be ready to recognize the signs, and ask for help when we see a problem…
Stigmatizing mental illness is not the right way. Peter Zisopoulos is described as a “loner”… He shouldn’t be. He should have around him people who cared and could offer a helping hand. If his family was not around, the Church and the community should have approached him… For goodness sake, he lives only blocks away from several Astoria Churches… If our churches were focused on ministry instead of personal promotion and money-making, Peter would have found help a long time ago…
Time for all of us to look in the mirror…
SOURCE – NYPOST.COM
Suspect Peter Zisopoulous charged with murder in stabbing of FDNY Lt. Alison Russo-Elling: cops
The maniac who allegedly stabbed veteran FDNY T Lt. Alison Russo-Elling to death in an unprovoked Queens attack has been charged with murder, cops said Friday.
Peter Zisopoulous, 34, also faces a weapon possession charge in connection to the senseless attack on the 61-year-old paramedic, who was stabbed more than 20 times at 20th Avenue and 41st Street in Astoria around 2:20 p.m. Thursday, police said.
Zisopoulous followed Russo-Elling before slamming her to the ground, mounting her and relentlessly stabbing her, according to police sources and sickening video of the deadly attack.
A witness confronted the madman, but he snarled, “F–k you, f–k you!” before stepping away from his victim and charging at the scooter-riding pedestrian while still holding the knife, police sources said.
The victim — whose injuries included a deep, lethal wound to the chest — was left unresponsive on the ground after her callous attacker ran off, according to sources and the video.
He was busted after he was chased by a good Samaritan and barricaded himself inside his nearby apartment, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said Thursday.
Police were able to talk him down and take him into custody on the third floor of the apartment.
Russo-Elling had gone to grab food when Zisopoulous allegedly stabbed her in what authorities said was a random and completely unprovoked attack.
“At this point in the investigation there doesn’t appear to have been any prior contact between them,” an FDNY source said. “He just walked toward her, sped up and then stabbed her to death.”
Russo-Elling — a 25-year veteran who was a World Trade Center responder on Sept. 11, 2001 — was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition but could not be saved, police said.
She “was about six or seven months away from retirement,” Vincent Variale, president of Local 3621, told reporters outside the hospital where Russo-Elling succumbed to her injuries. “She was talking about it.”
FDNY Acting Commissioner Laura Kavanagh called Russo-Elling’s death “heartbreaking,” adding she was stabbed in a “barbaric and completely unprovoked attack.”
“We lost one of our heroes,” Mayor Eric Adams said during a press briefing.
Russo-Elling worked out of Station 49 in Astoria and lived on Long Island.
She joined the FDNY as an EMT in March 1998 and was promoted to a paramedic in 2002 before becoming a lieutenant in 2016.
Paramedics have a higher level of education than EMTs and are able to perform more complex procedures, including administering medication to patients and inserting IV lines.
Russo-Elling worked out of numerous EMS stations through her career, including Station 20, Station 17, Station 16, Station 45, Queens Tactical Response Group and Station 49.