Friday, August 16, 2019

The Mental Health Factor in Mass Shootings

Recent events in El Paso and Dayton have again raised the question of a possible link between mass killings and mental illness. Gun control advocates argue that mental illness does not correlate with mass murder, perhaps because most of the mass killings in this country have more to do with gangs and drugs. Others are terrorist acts, whether the Boston Marathon, San Bernardino, Ft. Hood or Orlando.

No one believes that better mental health treatment could have stopped terrorist actions, but, some of the killings are committed by the mentally ill… and surely we should stop those if it is at all possible.

It is easier to treat a few hundred psychotics than it is to remove a few hundred million guns from the nation. And yet, when Patrick Crucius opened fire in El Paso the initial outcry was that we should declare war against bigotry and against guns. 

Still and all, James Holmes in Aurora, CO, Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook and Jared Loughner in Tucson seemed clearly to be suffering from psychoses. In some cases, Holmes in particular, a psychiatrist had identified him as dangerous. And yet, the law has made it devilishly difficult to commit anyone involuntarily. Lanza was once diagnosed as autistic, which seems clearly to have been in error. In the case of Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, FL. everyone knew that he was dangerous. Everyone knew that he had a serious problem. Beginning with school officials, through the local sheriff’s department and the FBI, no one did anything.

In the hue and cry, we have largely lost track of Connor Betts, the Dayton shooter. Since Betts was sympathetic to socialist causes and Antifa, the press has done yeoman work in blotting out his actions. Better to place the emphasis on the bigot in El Paso. 

Now, we discover, via the Dayton Daily News that Betts had received psychiatric treatment. Surely, he should have received more. We do not know whether he told his psychiatrist what he had planned-- one suspects that he did not-- but we do know that he saw a psychiatrist a few times. 

The Oregon District gunman had three mental health counseling receipts on his person when he died, according to preliminary autopsy results.

The Dayton Daily News examined the results, which typically include photographs of items found in a person’s wallet or pocket.

The bloodied receipts were for April 5, June 10 and another date that couldn’t be read. 

They were for $50 payments. Two were marked for mental health counseling, the other for mental health services….

Multiple people who knew the shooter have told the Dayton Daily News that Betts had told them he had several mental illnesses, including depression and possible bipolar disorder.

Additionally, the shooter had cocaine, alcohol and Xanax in his body, the results say.

Naturally, the Dayton Daily News uses the news story to debunk claims that mental illness had anything to do with the murders. It’s all in for gun control, but all out when it comes to treating psychosis.

First, it reports on the Ohio Governor Mike De Wine’s proposals:

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine focused on mental illnesses last week in his response to the Oregon District shooting. Among other proposals, he called for increased access to inpatient psychiatric care, “wrap-around services,” early intervention training, online mental health services for students, training on risk factors, and red-flag legislation to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Of course, mental health professionals have been crawling forth to explain that there is no real link between mental illness and mass murder. And yet, one suspects that they have skewed the research to promote a leftist political agenda.

As it happened, whatever diagnosis you want to affix to Connor Betts, the signs were clearly there:

Betts had a history of threatening women who he felt had wronged him. Multiple witnesses said he was disciplined in high school for creating a “hit list” of girls he wanted to rape and kill. His band performed a genre of music that focuses on violent imagery including raping and killing women.

Similarly, we do not know anything of Nikolas Cruz’s psychiatric diagnosis, but we do know that he and Betts ought to have been flagged as potential threats to society.

Is it too much to try to figure out how to identify such individuals before, not after, they commit mayhem. One of the problems with blaming it on guns is quite simply that it causes us to look away from the madness brewing in our communities, madness that is easily identified by many people who are not mental health professionals.


Sam L. said...

I have handled and shot pistols and rifles, including annual service qualifications, and not one has induced me to shoot at a person. (And not "two or more", either.)

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I don’t know what all the analysis is about/for. It’s all very simple: they want our guns. By any means necessary.

And “red flag” laws are patently ridiculous. They’re a Salem-style gun-grab, enabling the most emotionally fragile people in our society to take another person’s guns/property. Red flag laws would not have stopped ANY of these shooters. My God, Adam Lanza’s Mother bought his guns for him!

An interesting, sensible article on “red flag” laws: