During the final months of 2012 we saw an increasing number of mass shootings occur at the hands of persons who had suffered most of their lives from mental illness. I felt the issue was so pivotal that it deserved a primary focus on into this New Year. This week I would like to take a look at some of the mental health conditions which plagued some of these individuals in the spirit of promoting better awareness and insight into these conditions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
When this disorder is mentioned some envision Seung-Hui Cho, the student who on April 16, 2007 killed 32 in a dormitory and classroom building at the Virginia Tech campus. Others envision Fort Hood, Texas, November of 2009, where Major Nidal Malik Hasan an army psychiatrist opens fire killing 13 and wounding 30 in one of the worst mass shootings of record on a United States military base. Still others recall John A. Muhammad aka The D.C. Sniper, who began his entry into the annals of mass shooters in October of 2002. Once Mr. Muhammad’s guns ceased firing 10 innocent persons were dead and 3 were wounded. While the latter two individuals were military members both active duty and retired, there is an increased risk of suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder if one is active military or has served in active combat and now finds his/herself retired. Just because a person is diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) does not mean he/she is doomed to become a psychotic killer. In the above mentioned individuals other segments of mental instability and psychosis were also at work.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been defined as a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event resulting in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to cope. Persons traumatized by abusive parents, persons who have been raped, persons who have had acts of violence committed against them or have had to perform acts of violence in active combat are at risk for this disorder (estimates are as high as 61% of the active military – particularly those who have served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq). According to the National Institutes for Health, PTSD affects roughly 7.7 million American adults.