(Image source: Hartford Courant)

 

 

BY ZACH TOOMBS

 

 

Sunday saw increased focus on mental health disorders as a potential cause of mass shootings in America — the latest being Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

 

The victims of that mass killing — 20 children ages 5 and 6, along with six school employees and the gunman’s mother — were memorialized over the weekend with candlelight vigils and in houses of worship. [Video: Al Jazeera]

 

And while Sen. Dianne Feinstein and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg promised to push gun control legislation in response, others, including CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, decried the disregard for mental health treatment as an option for reducing violence.

 

“We’d like to think that it’s getting better, but this idea that if you get treated for a mental illness that you’ll be stigmatized and it’ll affect you for the rest of your life is still a pervasive notion — one that needs to be dispelled, because people can’t get treatment.” [Video: CNN]

 

Whether the gunman had any diagnosed mental disorder is unknown — though the Associated Press cited an anonymous official who said he did indeed have a form of Asperger’s.

 

And The New York Times spoke to his classmates, who said: “it was their understanding that he had a developmental disorder. They said they had been told that the disorder was Asperger’s syndrome ... a high functioning form of autism.”

 

But, as a Connecticut psychiatrist told the Hartford Courantthere is absolutely no correlation between the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome and a predilection toward violent behavior...”

 

In fact, the Autism Society acted quickly over the weekend to put out this statement, saying:

 

“To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law abiding, non-violent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day.”

 

Still, much national dialogue Sunday has revolved around the availability of guns compared to the difficulty parents face attaining proper mental health treatment for their children. [Video: ABC]

 

In a blog post shared widely across social media Sunday, freelance writer Liza Long says she identifies with the mothers of young men behind mass shootings in recent years because she has a son with a personality disorder who frequently threatens her and others with violence — and she lacks options for treating him. 

 

“No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options.”

 

Reported mental health disorders are five times more frequent in state prison populations than in the general adult population. Human Rights Watch chalks that up to “under-funded, disorganized and fragmented community mental health services.”

Renewed Attention on Mental Health as Cause of Mass Violence

by Zach Toombs
1
Transcript
Dec 16, 2012

Renewed Attention on Mental Health as Cause of Mass Violence

(Image source: Hartford Courant)

 

 

BY ZACH TOOMBS

 

 

Sunday saw increased focus on mental health disorders as a potential cause of mass shootings in America — the latest being Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

 

The victims of that mass killing — 20 children ages 5 and 6, along with six school employees and the gunman’s mother — were memorialized over the weekend with candlelight vigils and in houses of worship. [Video: Al Jazeera]

 

And while Sen. Dianne Feinstein and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg promised to push gun control legislation in response, others, including CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, decried the disregard for mental health treatment as an option for reducing violence.

 

“We’d like to think that it’s getting better, but this idea that if you get treated for a mental illness that you’ll be stigmatized and it’ll affect you for the rest of your life is still a pervasive notion — one that needs to be dispelled, because people can’t get treatment.” [Video: CNN]

 

Whether the gunman had any diagnosed mental disorder is unknown — though the Associated Press cited an anonymous official who said he did indeed have a form of Asperger’s.

 

And The New York Times spoke to his classmates, who said: “it was their understanding that he had a developmental disorder. They said they had been told that the disorder was Asperger’s syndrome ... a high functioning form of autism.”

 

But, as a Connecticut psychiatrist told the Hartford Courantthere is absolutely no correlation between the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome and a predilection toward violent behavior...”

 

In fact, the Autism Society acted quickly over the weekend to put out this statement, saying:

 

“To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law abiding, non-violent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day.”

 

Still, much national dialogue Sunday has revolved around the availability of guns compared to the difficulty parents face attaining proper mental health treatment for their children. [Video: ABC]

 

In a blog post shared widely across social media Sunday, freelance writer Liza Long says she identifies with the mothers of young men behind mass shootings in recent years because she has a son with a personality disorder who frequently threatens her and others with violence — and she lacks options for treating him. 

 

“No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options.”

 

Reported mental health disorders are five times more frequent in state prison populations than in the general adult population. Human Rights Watch chalks that up to “under-funded, disorganized and fragmented community mental health services.”

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