The Atlantic

How a True-Crime Podcast Became a Mental-Health Support Group

Listening to stories of grisly murders allows some people to exorcise their fears, and the community built around the show encourages listeners to take care of themselves.
Source: Daniel Becerril / Reuters

On the way to her first therapy appointment on a November morning in Lafayette, Louisiana, Windy Maitreme listened to her latest podcast obsession, My Favorite Murder. Maitreme works as an administrative assistant and struggles with anxiety and depression. Podcasts distract her from her fears.

“If I don’t really focus on something, I worry about everything,” Maitreme says.

She arrived 35 minutes early, and finished listening to the episode to calm her nerves. It was a memorable one, a rare tale of survival on a show about killings. Co-host Karen Kilgariff told the story of Mary Vincent, who was attacked by a man who picked her up while she was hitchhiking. He raped her, used a hatchet to hack off both her arms at the elbows and left her for dead. A couple driving by found her the next day, walking nude along the highway, holding what was left of her arms in the air to keep from losing more blood.

My Favorite Murder is, on the surface, a podcast for true-crime fans. The hosts, comedy writer Kilgariff and Cooking Channel personality Georgia Hardstark, take turns retelling and editorializing about history’s most gruesome killings—and the occasional near-killing— while the other reacts with shock

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