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U.S. Mental Health System is Broken: Why we can Expect More Mass Murders

mental_optBY DIANE LILLI
COMMENTARY

There are no simple solutions to offer when looking at a 20-year old man who shoots his mother in the face and then murders adults and young children.

But experts across the country are saying depression can be a deadly trigger especially in young men.

At the same time, there are brain disorders where people do not have the ability to feel empathy.

As of now, there is no solid information on this murderer's state of mind.

His brother, yesterday, told the F.B.I. his brother has mental problems his entire life.

The question now will focus on his motives. But as any logical human being can attest: there is no imaginable motives for killing so many people in such a murderous rage.

Guns and mental illness can all add up to mass murder.

Without a basis in a killer's mind for empathy - the only way to prevent these mass murders, in my opinion, is with medication.

Our society is failing the entire country in protecting the lives of the mentally ill - who are not being treated properly in many many cases - and the entire American public, as we are victims once again of a senseless tragedy of such horrific proportions.

There needs to be a high-level intelligent plan put into place here.

It is not just the weapons to blame: it is our epidemic of ignoring mental illness, and turning our heads instead of reaching out to offer help, and get professionals involved.

Of course guns should not be handed out so easily. That's a given.

But let's be honest: something is terribly broken in our mental health system. We know how to identify very ill people with mental illness. But we must do a much much better job of caring for these people.

I believe not one of our mass murders would have happened if our mental health system were robust.

We are not stepping up to match our advanced abilities to assess and treat mental illness and brain disorders - like depression or sociopathic traits - and we are seeing an explosion of mass murders occurring more and more.

Take a moment and think about your every day life. Don't you see that there are many people right around us who have fallen through the cracks, and are just wandering around and quite frankly, really crazy?

Just spend an hour with me at my local coffee shop - I see between 4 - 5 very ill local residents stumble in every day and make sometimes violent comments. It's obvious to me. We need to help them. And, if they are young men - who commit these mass murders - we need to step in quickly and get them professional help.

My question to all of us : Do we want to allow very mentally ill people to wander around, angry and depressed? Will they also snap?

It happened in Connecticut. It happened to the Amish children. It happened at Columbine. It happened in Aurora. It happened so many times.

We have the power to make this stop. But we must agree - and step up to immediately start identifying and treating everyone with mental illness or brain disorders.

Freedom means taking care of our wounded - and we have dropped the ball. Everyone will now focus on the weapons - but I think we must be a bit more intelligent and add in that crucial component: angry depressed people snap and kill. We need to treat them before it happens.

Centre for Economic Performance’s Mental Health Policy Group, and many other professionals report more than HALF of all mentally people go untreated.

*** *** ***

Diane Lilli is the publisher of The Jersey Tomato Press

 
Comments (14)
14 Monday, 17 December 2012 11:52
jem88
FACT: On the Top 10 List of Violence Inducing Prescription Drugs, 8 of them are psychiatric drugs: Pristiq, Effexor, Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft, Amphetamines (such as Adderall), Strattera and Prozac. The question is, why does the media downplay this obvious correlation to these mass murder shootings and why has there never been a federal investigation?
13 Sunday, 16 December 2012 03:24
PeteC
The answer isn't psychiatric medication. It is common for users of psychiatric medication to exhibit "challenging behaviour", which can be extremely violent. Better understanding of psychology, and the real causes of mental illness is deperately need, and less psychiatric medication.
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11 Saturday, 15 December 2012 19:38
SansLcre
There is absolutely no evidence that psychiatric medication, or any medication at all, effectively treats socio-/psychopathy. Depression by itself often cannot be treated effectively with available medication. According to one robust study, if memory serves me, in the journal Police Quarterly, those with mental illness are far more likely to end up victims rather than perpetrators. Nevertheless, more resources and better allocation of resources for depression among young males seem prudent.
10 Saturday, 15 December 2012 19:37
SansL
There is absolutely no evidence that psychiatric medication, or any medication at all, effectively treats socio-/psychopathy. Depression by itself often cannot be treated effectively with available medication. According to one robust study, if memory serves me, in the journal Police Quarterly, those with mental illness are far more likely to end up victims rather than perpetrators. Nevertheless, more resources and better allocation of resources for depression among young males seem prudent.
9 Saturday, 15 December 2012 19:36
SansLucre
There is absolutely no evidence that psychiatric medication, or any medication at all, effectively treats socio-/psychopathy. Depression by itself often cannot be treated effectively with available medication. According to one robust study, if memory serves me, in the journal Police Quarterly, those with mental illness are far more likely to end up victims rather than perpetrators. Nevertheless, more resources and better allocation of resources for depression among young males seem prudent.
8 Saturday, 15 December 2012 19:36
angelad888
“Like most Americans, my adult son was distraught about Friday’s murders. How could anyone not be? But for him the news was especially unsettling. That’s because he’s one of “them.” He’s one of the ones being demonized on television. He’s been diagnosed with a mental illness. He’s been arrested. He’s been repeatedly hospitalized in mental wards.

Federal statutes already prohibit anyone who has been “adjudicated as (being) mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution” from buying a firearm. Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook shootings happened, prohibits the sale of firearms to anyone who has been found not guilty of a crime due to a “mental disease” or has been a “patient in a mental hospital within the preceding 12 months.”

Can we toughen existing laws? Of course. But the devil is in the details. Many of the police, firefighters and EMTs who responded to the 9/11 disaster in Manhattan reported feelings of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental illness. Many of our returning military veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have also filed claims for PTSD. Should we be afraid of them? What about the FBI agent who becomes depressed after his teenage daughter dies in a car accident? Should he not seek psychiatric counseling or take anti-depressants because it might cost him the right to own a firearm?

The National Institutes of Mental Health reports that about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. That’s 57.7 million people. According to a recent article published by Public Health Law Research, gun restrictions on people with a history of mental illness, such as background checks and waiting periods, had no significant effect on homicide rates. The restrictions, however, did reduce the suicide rate, suggesting that people with mental disorders, especially depression, are more likely to kill themselves than others.

Connecticut has an estimated 140,000 residents with severe mental illnesses. About half are not getting any treatment. Why? Between 2005 and 2007, the state closed 17% of its public hospital beds for treating psychiatric disorders. What happened to the patients who used to get help in those facilities? In my home state of Virginia, persons with psychiatric problems who are dangerous are being released to the streets because there are no treatment beds available.

In addition to debating gun control, we need to ask why our mental health system is failing us.”

- Pete Earley, author of CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.

(http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/12/15/pete-earley-on-shooter-and-mental-illness/1771203/)
7 Saturday, 15 December 2012 19:32
Emigris
There is absolutely no evidence that psychiatric medication, or any medication at all, effectively treats socio-/psychopathy. Depression by itself can be treated effectively with available medication. According to one robust study, if memory serves me, in the journal Police Quarterly, those with mental illness are far more likely to end up victims rather perpetrators. Nevertheless, more resources and better allocation of resources to address depression among young males seems prudent.
NO
6 Saturday, 15 December 2012 19:10
Jimmy
The truth is you are a pharma rep who wants to lobby to force people onto your meds, sorry, we aren't stupid, the solution in "one person, one gun" albeit, passing rigorous psychological tests, and ammunition should be tightly controlled.
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4 Saturday, 15 December 2012 17:56
Psychology
I had an occasion to see a doctor. He was a neurologist/psychologist. My problem was an acute short term memory loss which was later, by another doctor, determined to be zinc deficiency and the problem was taken cafe of. The point is that the first doctor determined that my frustration with not being able to remember dates, names, and numbers was depression and he prescribed that I should be given a regiment of some very powerful drugs and be put under a psychologist's care. He was 100 percent wrong.

In a 180 degree direction, Joyce Brothers didn't recognize the suicidal tendencies of her husband until after he had committed the act and then in hindsight, she spotted the clues.

Other scientists are suggesting that they can spot criminals before any crimes are committed by using genetics, psychological clues, or a lifestyle outside from what these scientists consider the norm. While telling people to be an individual, they also have to fit in with the crowd. At the very minimum this would condemning people of being guilty of thought crimes. Guilty of a crime they never had committed......yet..

I am an old fart. In my life time, I have seen the police make general profiles of people and harass and sometimes arrest innocent people based on those profiles only having to later let the suspect go. History has a way coming back again and again. What goes around comes around. Early in my life, people that wore certain kinds of clothes were suspect just as is happening again today. A few years later, people that drove a car that was painted differently than the accepted 'norm' were suspicious. Then came any male that had hair longer than normal was looked at. Soon, all motorcyclists were criminals that have not been caught yet. Things just go in cycles. Where I now live, anyone that drives a white Chevy Corvette is a drug dealer because the police arrested a few drug dealers that owned white Corvettes. I know one real estate agent that painted his white Corvette black and he still gets hassled by the police. The last time, the policeman suggested that he can't get away by just a re-paint job.

One era's norm becomes another era's anomaly. Psychology operates in much the same way. Up until the 80s, people was put into asylums on no more than a relatives request and some doctors signature. This happened to my own mother which resulted in a law suit, the relative was after money... I wonder if this is where these psychologists want to take things once again ??
3 Saturday, 15 December 2012 17:54
Psychology
I had an occasion to see a doctor. He was a neurologist/psychologist. My problem was an acute short term memory loss which was later, by another doctor, determined to be zinc deficiency and the problem was taken cafe of. The point is that the first doctor determined that my frustration with not being able to remember dates, names, and numbers was depression and he prescribed that I should be given a regiment of some very powerful drugs and be put under a psychologist's care. He was 100 percent wrong.

In a 180 degree direction, Joyce Brothers didn't recognize the suicidal tendencies of her husband until after he had committed the act and then in hindsight, she spotted the clues.

Other scientists are suggesting that they can spot criminals before any crimes are committed by using genetics, psychological clues, or a lifestyle outside from what these scientists consider the norm. While telling people to be an individual, they also have to fit in with the crowd. At the very minimum this would condemning people of being guilty of thought crimes. Guilty of a crime they never had committed......yet..

I am an old fart. In my life time, I have seen the police make general profiles of people and harass and sometimes arrest innocent people based on those profiles only having to later let the suspect go. History has a way coming back again and again. What goes around comes around. Early in my life, people that wore certain kinds of clothes were suspect just as is happening again today. A few years later, people that drove a car that was painted differently than the accepted 'norm' were suspicious. Then came any male that had hair longer than normal was looked at. Soon, all motorcyclists were criminals that have not been caught yet. Things just go in cycles. Where I now live, anyone that drives a white Chevy Corvette is a drug dealer because the police arrested a few drug dealers that owned white Corvettes. I know one real estate agent that painted his white Corvette black and he still gets hassled by the police. The last time, the policeman suggested that he can't get away by just a re-paint job.

One era's norm becomes another era's anomaly. Psychology operates in much the same way. Up until the 80s, people was put into asylums on no more than a relatives request and some doctors signature. This happened to my own mother which resulted in a law suit, the relative was after money... I wonder if this is where these psychologists want to take things once again ??
2 Saturday, 15 December 2012 17:03
angelad888
Society is to blame. It's the ripple effect. Eventually, every negative and positive action reacts with the entire pond. We're all connected, and mental illness is a REAL issue.
1 Saturday, 15 December 2012 14:01
Anonymous
Nice job jumping onto a current to make an unrelated, unsubstantiated, bigoted argument and get more hits. Top-class journalism.

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