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“Psychiatrists Can’t Stop Mass Killers”

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The violent crimes recently committed in Las Vegas have, once again, opened up a debate on what can be done to prevent these senseless massacres. Many politicians and a large segment of the population believe that it comes down to deficient mental health care.

However, a recent New York Times article highlights the fact that even though many mass murderers suffer from a mental disorder, this essentially has zero implications for how to stop the massacres from happening. For example, of all the mass killings that occurred between 1982 to 2017, only a reported 15 percent of the perpetrators had any previous contact whatsoever with mental health professionals, and whatever services were provided to them clearly did not prevent the crime from being committed.

Challenges

First, those who commit these types of violent crimes do not necessarily view themselves as mentally ill, and thus arguably cannot benefit from mental health services.

In addition, it is also difficult—maybe even impossible—to predict who is likely to turn violent. Just look at many of the perpetrators behind these events, including the recent one in Las Vegas: In that instance, the shooter had no relevant criminal record, and his motive for committing the crime still perplexes experts.

Many people also do not realize that the mentally ill do not actually contribute a significant amount of violence to the country. For example, according to the article, if you were to eliminate every psychiatric illness from existence, the rate of violence would only decrease by about four percent.

Thus, the natural conclusion is that most homicides are committed by individuals who would not necessarily be found to be suffering from a mental illness by professionals.

How Do We “Fix” It?

It thus behooves us to seek out other preventative measures—adjusting environmental factors, which could have a more positive impact on preventing violent crimes than looking at predispositions. For example, some cities successfully decreased suicide rates by installing physical barriers (large safety nets) at suicide “hot spots.”

The same appears to be true for violent crimes: Countries that have limited access to deadly firearms have significantly lower homicide rates compared to the United States. And these countries are lacking in compensatory measures, such as an increase in violent knife attacks.

Representing Those Accused of Violent Crime in the Courtroom

It is clear that anyone who commits or is even charged with committing a violent crime is destined to be misunderstood by our culture, including by potential jury members. It is thus essential that these individuals obtain the right criminal defense representation, particularly if they suffer from mental illness and this is a factor in the accusations.

Attorney Phillip J. Murphy has been representing clients accused of committing violent crimes for more than 25 years throughout New Jersey and New York. Contact our office today for a free consultation and find out how we can help.

Resource:

nytimes.com/2017/10/11/opinion/psychiatrists-mass-killers.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

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