The “psycho killer” problem

By Chris Daly

Today’s NYTimes has a piece that tries to address an issue that I believe was raised by the Tucson shootings: What are people supposed to do when they think a young man is losing his grip on reality and appears headed toward some violent act.? Turns out, there is not a really good answer — at least in most states, most of the time, with most cases.

This is an issue that I raised last week, shortly after the shootings in an op-ed I wrote in the Boston Globe.

Regrettably, though, the Globe editing process knocked out a key point I was trying to make. Midway through the op-ed, I wrote:

For one thing, the age at which both men are thought to have committed violent acts — their early 20s — is around the time when men tend to experience the onset of schizophrenia, a major mental illness that affects less than 1 percent of the population, most of whom will never commit an act of violence.

The regrettable part is that an editor at the Globe cut the final phrase — “. . . most of whom will never commit an act of violence.” — leaving the impression that some, most, or all schizophrenics are dangerous, which is not true and not my point. The editor who accepted the piece and saw it through most of the editing process agreed that it was an editorial mistake to have cut that phrase.

The major point: A lot more people need to learn a lot more about effective interventions for people suffering major mental illnesses.

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Filed under mental illness, New York Times, schizophrenia, Tucson, Tucson shooting

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