Jeffrey Lieberman, past-president of the American Psychiatric Association, authored an Op-Ed in last Friday’s New York Times, calling for improved mental health screenings in schools and emergency rooms in the wake of the murder of Virginia journalists Alison Park and Adam Ward. In support of forced treatment mechanisms, Lieberman claims: “Almost every mentally ill perpetrator of mass violence had been symptomatic and untreated for lengthy periods of time before their crime, because they (or their families) did not seek treatment or they refused it.” More →
National Journal reports that some Republican and Conservative senators alike recognize a need for gun control legislation in the wake of more mass shootings. However, these senators admit that the politics of gun control are too conflict-ridden and polarized to wade into any time soon. Consequently, reports the Journal, "It appears that focusing on mental health is still the most likely way to push a change through in Congress. But more gun laws seem to be impossible." More →
Vox interviews Vanderbilt University's Jonathan Metzl about his research into the relationships -- and lack thereof -- between gun violence and mental illness. Metzl "argues that mental illness is often a scapegoat that lets policymakers and the public ignore bigger, more complicated contributors to gun violence." More →
Yet another study -- this one published in Psychiatric Services (in Advance) -- has found that risk of gun violence is not linked to mental illnesses. Instead, once again, substance use and history of violence were found to be better predictors of violence. More →
People diagnosed with schizophrenia are more likely to commit violent crimes than the general population, and their rate of committing violent crimes has been increasing in recent decades, according to a study in The Lancet Psychiatry. An accompanying commentary clarified, however, that the data showed that the dominant risk factors for committing violence did not actually include diagnoses of schizophrenia, and were similar in both people with schizophrenia and in the general population. More →
A very small minority of "high-risk" individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses perform acts of violence repeatedly, and their acts of violence are rarely preceded by psychotic experiences, according to a study in Clinical Psychological Science. The findings contradict assertions of advocates for involuntary treatment like E. Fuller Torrey, wrote the authors. More →
Writing about the Charleston massacre in the Washington Post, Anthea Butler hopes that the common media narrative portraying mass shooters as "lone, disturbed or mentally ill young men failed by society" does not supplant discussions of the deep racism that still exists in America. And Fox News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News Dr. Manny Alvarez draws attention to the dangers of prescription drug abuse "helping to fuel violence in America." More →
Commenting in Salon on media and public discussion of the recent massacre in a Charleston church, Arthur Chu criticizes how quickly many people try to blame "mental illness" despite the fact that, in this case, shooter Dylann Roof himself reportedly stated that his violence was racially motivated. "Blaming 'mental illness, is a cop-out -- and one that lets us avoid talking about race, guns, hatred and terrorism," writes Chu. Slate reports critically on the Fox TV news coverage of the massacre that completely avoided discussing race for hours while describing Roof as an insane monster without clear motivation. In Newsweek, Matthew Lysiak argues that Roof was "most likely" mentally ill and "untreated or undiagnosed." More →
Taking antidepressant or benzodiazepine medications are both associated with increased risks that a person will commit a homicide, according to a study from Finland published in a World Psychiatry letter. More →
In The Lancet Psychiatry, David Menkes of the University of Auckland and Andrew Herxheimer of the UK Cochrane Centre argue that a recent headline-making Lancet study linking depression to acts of violence should have examined antidepressant medications -- rather than depression alone -- as possible causes. More →
The man charged in the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado believed that he was mentally ill with a "broken brain" that could not be truly fixed. After "neuroscience" had failed, James Holmes wrote in his journal which has been posted on BuzzFeed, the only possible escape would be through "mass murder at the movies.” More →
"The U.S. government is taking steps that may change the way airlines vet employees for mental illness," reported Bloomberg News. "The Federal Aviation Administration has created a panel of government and industry officials to recommend ways to improve the evaluation of pilots’ fitness to fly." More →
"Jail and prison staff throughout the United States have used unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force against prisoners with mental disabilities," stated a press release about a new report from Human Rights Watch. More →
No types of major psychiatric disorders contribute at all towards a higher likelihood of future violent behavior, according to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. However the researchers found, as have many other studies, that substance abuse and addiction were positive predictors. More →
The pilot who deliberately crashed a Germanwings commercial airplane was questioned by the Federal Aviation Administration and denied a license to fly. The Agency reversed course in 2010, however, when his treating psychiatrist wrote letters of support indicating that the pilot's treatment with antidepressants and psychotherapy was a "complete" success, reported CNN and USA Today. More →
The person living on the streets with whom no one will make eye contact, or who the police hassle for requesting spare change from passersby. The individual who has learned to cut themselves to manage emotional pain, and so is punished by emergency room staff who sew them up without anesthetic (both physical and emotional pain disregarded), or confuse their efforts for suicide and contain them against their will. The person of color who some might cross the street to avoid, or who is arrested for lashing out when another is murdered at the hands of those employed to ‘serve and protect.’ Each is only looking for a way to survive, but instead finds themselves ignored or blamed.
Most pilots who've used planes to commit suicide had actually been screened for mental health issues, reports the New York Times. Plus a selection of other commentaries that continue to emerge about the Germanwings plane crash... More →
Huffington Post reported on a study from Duke, Harvard and Columbia researchers, finding that "nearly one in 10 U.S. adults have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm." There was little correlation between impulsive anger and mental disorders. More →
I thought I would make a small contribution to the discussion about how coverage of the recent airline tragedy focuses so much on the supposed ‘mental illness’ of the pilot and not so much on the possible role of antidepressants. Of course we will never know the answer to these questions but it is important, I think, to combat the simplistic nonsense wheeled out after most such tragedies, the nonsense that says the person had an illness that made them do awful things. So, just to confirm what many recipients of antidepressants, clinicians and researchers have been saying for a long time, here are some findings from our recent New Zealand survey of over 1,800 people taking anti-depressants, which we think is the largest survey to date.
In The New Yorker, Gary Greenberg points out that half of Americans allegedly have a mental disorder at some point in their lives and mental health professionals are not particularly apt at preventing the statistically miniscule portion who might do something catastrophic. More →
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