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Mental Health and Violent Crime

Within the last few weeks alone, three people in our viewing area have taken their own lives after murdering or attempting to murder other people.

On October 19th, a man reportedly attempted to shoot others and wrecked his car into a home in Richland Township before turning the gun on himself in Portage.

Miles away in Everett on October 24th, two children were shot inside of a home before the shooter killed himself.

In another incident in Everett on November 8th, a man shot and killed his mother and set fire to her home before taking his own life.

It’s been a string of separate incidents with the same pattern: someone appears to enter a rage, tries to kill other people, causes destruction, and ultimately kills themselves.

So, why is this happening?

“We’ve see an increase in serious violence, including homicides specifically, over the past few years.”

We asked Jack Rozel a Psychiatrist and the Medical Director of Crisis Services at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital for some insight on the trend.

He is also an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh.

According to his research, Rozel says the causes of these violent incidents aren’t usually due to mental illness.

“One of the myths out there is that violence is due to people with mental illness. The reality is, the vast majority of violence has nothing to do with psychiatric illness, or people living with psychiatric illness,”

In many cases, he says it’s stressors like employment and finances that are more likely to send someone over the edge.

So what happens if you can see the warning signs in somebody, or if you’re having these feelings yourself?

Rozel says to get the resources you need especially a listening ear whether that be from a loved one of professional help.

“When in doubt, be human. Listen, be present, be compassionate, be empathetic, let them tell their story. A lot of times, just the act of listening with respect is a profoundly powerful tool to help people through crisis,”

The National Suicide Prevention Crisis Lifeline can help someone going through this and their families by simply calling 988.

“One of the things we know from working in this field for a while, is that we can actually be really good at prevention without needing to be really good at prediction, often by adding in resources, supports, social connection, looking at some of the basic stressors that all of us have been dealing with over the past few years,”

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