May 1, 2002
For Immediate Release
Waltraud Prechter to Testify Before Congress About Manic Depression Research
WASHINGTON, DC - May 1, 2002 - Waltraud "Wally" Prechter, Chairman of Prechter Holdings, Inc. and President of the Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression, will ask Congress to ensure that funding for research into manic depression increases on an equal level with other mental health related research.
Prechter will testify tomorrow before the Labor, Health and Human Service and Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. She will request that the federal government convene a national symposium to find a cure for the debilitating disease that affects an estimated 2.7 million adults nationwide.
In her testimony, she will outline to federal lawmakers the economic losses caused by depression as well as the emotional toll it takes on millions. Her late husband, Heinz Prechter, fell victim to suicide on July 6, 2001, after battling intermittent bouts of manic depression for over 30 years.
"We tend to believe that at the dawn of the 21st century, we, as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, must surely have a remedy for any ailment we encounter," Prechter will tell lawmakers. "Heinz's death proves that we do not. We are in the dark about the causes of manic depression. We don't know how to effectively and safely treat manic depression."
Heinz Prechter was one of 30,000 Americans who took their lives last year, representing one suicide every 17 minutes in the country. Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, adds to the economic impact of an estimated $170 billion due to lost productivity, absenteeism and premature death caused by mental illnesses.
"As debilitating as blindness or paraplegia, manic depression destroys the ability to reason, motivate, communicate, share ideas, and foster productive relationships," Prechter will testify. "Manic depression erodes the very foundation of America's economic strength. It is an illness that our great country can no longer afford."
To combat this illness, the Prechter family has established the Heinz C. Prechter Fund for Manic Depression to engage the "best and brightest" researchers to advance breakthrough medical research to find cures for bipolar disorder.
Prechter will urge lawmakers to ensure that funding for the National Institute of Mental Health increases on a par with other health institutes and that bipolar disorder receive a proportionate share of the funding increases. She also will recommend that bipolar research focus on unlocking the underlying genetic causes of the disease.
Lastly, she will urge Congress to encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a national symposium of researchers, clinicians, mental health advocacy groups and affected individuals to create a "research road map." A similar national conference in 1998 ultimately contributed to the development of a national strategy to combat suicide.
"Since bipolar disorder is a significant factor in many suicides, this type of approach is certainly warranted," Prechter will tell lawmakers.
(Full text of Congressional Testimony)