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Kony 2012 creator hospitalized after “psychotic meltdown”

Invisible Children recently found themselves in the spotlight for the second time in the past month, but this story took on a new angle.

About two weeks after the organization’s “KONY 2012” video went viral, its creator, Jason Russell, was detained and hospitalized.

According to police, Russell was “exhibiting bizarre behavior” on the streets of his neighborhood in San Diego, dressed only in his underwear. They received complaints from several callers reporting that “the male removed his underwear and was nude.” He interfered with traffic, screaming and yelling incoherently. After being detained by the police, he was placed into a mental hospital for observation.

A video of the episode was released by TMZ and has since been viewed by tens of thousands of people.

At first glance, onlookers assumed Russell to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, doctors concluded that he had suffered from a “brief psychotic meltdown.” His hospital stay will continue for several weeks or as long as necessary, according to a statement from his family.

Russell’s wife, Danica, explained that her husband has been under great stress from the criticism on the “Kony 2012” video. “[The incident] was not caused by either a substance abuse or drinking problem,” she said.

Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, also released a video statement. He expressed the company’s concern for Russell and support for his recovery. “Because of how personal the [‘Kony 2012’] film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard,” he said. He also asked that Invisible Children supporters continue their support for the Kony campaign.

Moving forward, proponents of the campaign hope that attention will remain on Kony and the efforts toward his capture. Some have expressed concern that Russell’s meltdown may overshadow this broader issue. The BBC, however, seems to think that the steam behind the Kony video and campaign will continue regardless of negative press: “It has already served the purpose of persuading millions to care, and policy decisions were taking shape,” BBC reporter Mary Slosson said.

As for Russell, he continues to recover and receive letters of encouragement from Invisible Children supporters. As he proceeds through treatment, his family expresses thanks to all those who have sent him cards and notes: “Jason will get better. He has a long way to go, but we are confident that he will make a full recovery. . . . We could never thank you all enough for the massive outpouring of support that you’ve shown.”

Sources: BBC News and Los Angeles Times 

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