The news are reporting that the young man who killed many young children and their teachers, including his mother and then himself, suffered from a “personality disorder.” That may well be true, if vague. He could have suffered, in fact, from any one of many mental illnesses. It is important to know two things:
– a very minute number, among the millions of people who suffer from a mental illness, are dangerous to others; however mental patients can frequently be dangerous to themselves;
– we families cannot go it alone, especially when violence and non-compliance with medications is a part of the picture. Too often families see the danger, bring their relative to the hospital against their will, the hospital administers medication and releases the patient, and the cycle escalates. How often can these families be expected to have their child committed or their spouse arrested?
The answer lies in better, broader psycho-education for families (this is what NEABPD does), community support and broad access to affordable mental healthcare.