Many of us are trying to understand how someone can wantonly kill innocent moviegoers in Aurora, Colo. Anne Quinn’s July 28 letter suggests it is an opportunity to discuss mental illness, suggesting this may be a factor. While I have no idea whether it is, I can say that as someone with a 30-year career in the mental health field, research has consistently shown the mentally ill are no more violent than the general population.
What I do see in Aurora is a great discrepancy between this person’s extremely detailed, sophisticated and intentional behavior required to carry out the murderous acts of which he is accused, and his bizarre, passive and seemingly disconnected behavior just days later in the courtroom. Many people do not want to be found responsible for their behavior and “legal insanity” is a way out.
It is always a good time to learn and appreciate the special challenges of those with mental illness. For those who seek more knowledge, there is a wonderful local resource: the local chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill at www.namislo.org.
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