Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 152

The Highland Park Mass Shooting: Sometimes You Just Want to be Proven Wrong

It is time to stop denying this lethal reality…

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

Sometimes you do not want your point to be proven to be true. Here, I am not talking about personal disagreements with my wife, in which she is more often than not proven to be right.Nor am I talking about masochism tendencies in which you desire to be hurt in some way. No, I am talking about public statements that may detract from your professional reputation and expertise. Nevertheless, I wish I was proven wrong in regard to 2 recent daily columns.

One I wrote on June 14, 2022, titled “It’s Disingenuous to Deny the Role of Mental Disturbance in Gun Violence.” I wish mental disturbance on up to mental disorders were not involved in mass shootings at a rate higher than the general public, but they seem to be, as now is apparent once again in the Highland Park, Illinois, mass shooting on our Independence Day, July 4th. Though it is not clear if the perpetrator was ever psychiatrically diagnosed or treated, he did express suicidal and homicidal ideation in 2 police evaluations in 2019 after they were called by his family. His recent social media videos presented images of his homicidal intent.

Despite that 2019 history, his father apparently supported his being able to obtain the Illinois identification needed to legally purchase firearms at the age of 19. Illinois is thought to have stricter gun safety laws than many states, and it does not seem like the new watered-down federal gun safety law would prevent this from happening. But, regardless, this is not the kind of fathering I was advocating for in the June 10, 2022 column, “A DIGS Model Program to Prevent Violence in Troubled Youth.” DIGS stands for Dads Into Gun Safety.

Guns are necessary, but not sufficient for mass shootings. Almost by definition, someone has to have a mental disturbance of some kind and degree to use the guns in that way. Only making political and judicial decisions based upon political party does not seem to be a sign of mental well-being. It is past time for our profession to stop denying this lethal reality. The social treatment is to both reduce gun availability as well as improve mental health, especially for males at higher risk.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.