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What Part Did Mental Illness Play in the Sandy Hook Shootings?

By HERWriter
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was mental illness a factor in Sandy Hooks shootings? Henrik Lehnerer/PhotoSpin

The mass shooting of innocent children and teachers in Newton, Conn., has weighed down hearts and minds for the last week.

And one of the main concerns is the role that mental illness may have played in the shooting. It’s hard to understand how anyone could want to kill as many people as possible, especially children and teachers at an elementary school.

The only reasoning behind this tragedy for many people is that the shooter must have been severely mentally unstable, and had a desire to inflict his internal suffering on others.

Various sources stated that Adam Lanza, the shooter, had a mental disorder such as Asperger’s syndrome or even schizophrenia. Other sources suggest that the shooter was rebelling against a potential involuntary commitment by his mother (who he also shot and killed according to ABC News) due to his mental health condition and the now-apparent danger to others.

Experts explain what connection mental illness possibly had to the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Elizabeth Waterman, a psychologist at Morningside Recovery Center, said in an email that there is no doubt mental health issues were a major factor that led to the shootings.

“An individual who engages in the planning and execution of an act such as this [is] certainly troubled mentally and emotionally,” Waterman said.

Although she said without knowing his background and symptoms she can’t diagnose him with a specific mental disorder, it was apparent he had “serious psychological problems.”

However, just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they could end up going on a shooting rampage.

“I do not believe that major mental illness in and of itself is a sufficient sign that someone is potentially dangerous,” Waterman said. “Most people struggling with severe mental illness are not dangerous to themselves or others.”

Heather Meggers-Wright, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Birmingham-Southern College, said in an email that many people tend to “attribute unthinkable events ...

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EmpowHER Guest

A horribly stigmatizing headline and start to the article. The quotes from the experts are excellent but a more appropriate headline and start to the article is needed. To me, this is an article about stigma - What part did stigma play in reporting the Sandy Hook shootings?

Of course people who have survived such traumatic effects are likely to be at risk of poor mental health, for example posttraumatic stress disorder. But of course media headlines like to suggest mental illness is "the problem" and "harmful to others" rather than caused by harmful events. Talking about mental health in the context of a traumatic event without mentioning PTSD is frankly ridiculous.

January 18, 2014 - 3:11am
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