Mental Health Could Be Factor In Shooting

By: Brittany Paris

With the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting still fresh, many people are looking for answers about what drove the gunman kill so many.

David Miers, PhD, said 1 in 4 Americans has a mental illness. The recent acts of violence could be related to mental health, but are on the extreme end of the spectrum.

“It's hard to believe that there weren't any signs or symptoms,” Miers said. “Generally, a person will exhibit some behaviors towards somebody that someone would have picked up on.”

Miers is the counseling and program development manager at Bryan Health. He said that mental health could be a factor in the most recent shooting, and it's hard to pinpoint what would drive a person to commit such acts of violence.

“Individuals with mental illness can have the inability to concentrate or to confuse thinking and have delusions or hallucinations,” Miers said. “I don't know if those were present in this case, but it's really difficult to determine what exactly leads to the acts of violence that they choose.”

He also said there are general things to look for. Such as: changes in sleep and appetite, extreme mood changes, and expressing anger inappropriately.

Miers stresses that mental illness is treatable and says to take any violent remarks someone makes seriously.

Nebraska has a protective custody law. The lays allows a person to call 911 if they are questioning a person's mental health.

An officer will evaluate the situation and can take the person into emergency protective custody involuntarily to ensure no one is harmed.