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Mother of Mark Becker Speaks at Mental Awareness Panel in Cedar Rapids

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    CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Joan Becker, the mother of Mark Becker, spoke at a panel about mental illness awareness Thursday.

    Joan Becker's son, Mark, shot and killed Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas in June 2009. Mark Becker had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted with first-degree murder.

    At the panel discussion, Becker spoke of ways she thinks the mental health-care system could be changed to help prevent another tragedy like the one involving her son.

    She stressed that patients and families need to be made aware of the support services that are available to those with mental illnesses.

    The panel was organized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness in honor of National Mental Illness Awareness Week.