Guatemalan woman who tried to drown daughters known to be mentally ill; Latinos chronically under-treated

South L.A./Flickr

Teddy bears, flowers and balloons line the fence outside Lorna Valle's South L.A. home in the days after the incident.

On Wednesday morning, Lorna Valle's husband came home to find her allegedly trying to drown her two daughters in a bathtub. Lindsay Stephanie, their 1-year-old, died soon after; 5-year-old Marian remains hospitalized at Children's Hospital in serious but stable condition.

Valle’s story is disturbing — all the more so because it isn’t common among many first-generation immigrants.

Speaking to KTLA, Valle’s neighbors said she seemed troubled and disturbed. They said she seemingly never left the house.

A cousin added that Valle had unsuccessfully sought mental health treatment — but it’s unclear whether she didn’t get help because she was undocumented or uninsured.

USC professor William Vega, an expert on Latino mental health, says that what is common about Valle’s story is that she seemed to have suffered from depression, and a lack of treatment, for years.

“Latinos overall have an under-treatment profile that’s gone on for decades and decades," said Vega. "They just don’t come into treatment as successfully, as often, even when they’ve experienced a serious mental health problem. We know that.”

Vega says better outreach and more resources are needed to get people such as Valle to seek treatment before they can cause harm to others, or to themselves.

Valle has been booked for murder and attempted murder. She is being held on $1.5 million bail.

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