Some Hope Connecticut Tragedy Will Refocus Attention On US Mental Healthcare.

USA Today (12/17, Szabo) reports, “Families and doctors who treat the mentally ill say they hope that Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Conn., will refocus the nation’s attention on improving mental health services.” While “police have not yet released details about the motives or mental state of shooter Adam Lanza,” the “perpetrators of similar mass murders — at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University and a Tucson gathering for Rep. Gabby Giffords, for example — all suffered from serious mental health conditions.” Forensic psychologist Dew Cornell, who directs the Virginia Youth Violence Project, pointed out that “schools and communities ‘have cut their mental health services to the bone.'” He added, “We’re paying a price for it as a society.”

The Arizona Republic (12/16, Sexton) reported that “mental health experts in Arizona said discussion of Lanza’s mental state is an opportunity to talk about the need for better mental health preventive services.” Jim Frost, president of National Alliance on Mental Illness for Arizona, said that “it is no surprise that mass shootings in the past two years involved young adult men.” He explained, “There is a life trigger at age 18 for some people who have trouble coping, he said. For some men, it becomes an act of aggression, an act of violence.”

Better Mental Healthcare Alone May Not Prevent Mass Killings. The Buffalo (NY) News (12/15, Zremski) pointed out that “better mental health services alone are not the [preventive] medicine for mass shootings like the one that claimed the lives of 20 school children and eight adults, including the killer, in Connecticut on Friday.” According to psychiatrists, “it’s nearly impossible to identify who among the mentally ill is truly dangerous, and that any effort to do so will only further stigmatize a category of illness where many people already shun treatment out of embarrassment and fear.” Finally, “the vast majority of mentally ill people are not prone to violence.”

Article Provides Tips On How To Discuss Newtown Shootings With Kids. HealthDay (12/15, Gardner) provided tips for parents on how to discuss the Newtown shootings with their children. Experts say youngsters “need to be able to express their feelings about what happened.” Parents “should try to inform children without overwhelming them.” Grown-ups “can also offer ‘gentle words, a hug when appropriate or sometimes just being present with [kids] and not leaving them alone,’ said” Victor Fornari, MD, “director of child/adolescent psychiatry at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, NY.”

Related Links:

— “Newtown tragedy could put mental health in spotlight, “Liz Szabo, USA Today, December 17, 2012.

Posted in In The News.