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by
Helen Smith

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December 14, 2012 - 12:59 pm

There is a good response up by psychiatrist Keith Ablow on coping with today’s elementary school tragedy:

First, we should tell them that horrific violence is still mercifully uncommon—that the risk to any one school in America is, thankfully, extremely, extremely limited. We should tell them also that events like the one in Newtown on Friday almost always turn out to be driven by severe psychological turmoil or psychiatric illness in the assailant—not because that forgives anything, but because it takes the boogeyman out of the story and suggests a solution to such horrific violence might be found through better outreach to the unstable among us and better management of those we identify as unstable….

Beyond how to cope with the suffering of children exposed to Friday’s violence, we must make good on a commitment to rebuild our mental health care system and to better connect it to law enforcement. I know nothing about the shooter in Connecticut. And, yet, having worked for these 20 years as an adolescent, adult and forensic psychiatrist, I will tell you there is every probability that he expressed very concerning thoughts or feelings to more than one person before Friday—and those thoughts or feelings should have been acted upon much more completely than they were….

One other thing: Those who call for gun control after incidents like this contribute nothing to the solution. Gunmen like Friday’s plan their actions, right down to wearing military garb. They could certainly procure illegal firearms or use incendiary devices to kill. I only wish the kindergarten teacher and principal in Connecticut had been armed.

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.
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