The Mental Health Dilemma


About the author: Becky is a conservative citizen activist who grew up in the 1980's Reagan era. During that time it was not unusual for American's to hear a great deal about the Cold War and to be concerned about the possibility of a nuclear war. When the Cold War ended, American entered an era of peace and prosperi ... [read 's FULL BIO]

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From January of 1989 to July of 2003 there were a dozen mass murders committed in America. This time frame does not have any particular significance. I simply picked a dozen incidents to understand what the connections were, what these killers had in common, how they perpetrated their crimes, and if a reason could be gleaned. The list below tells you the date, incident, the name of the murderer, his age, and his race. Every one of them can be found online if you want more details.

January 17, 1989 – The Cleveland School massacre perpetrated by Patrick Edward Murphy, 25, Caucasian
October 16, 1991 – Luby’s massacre perpetrated by George Hennard, 35, Caucasian
November 1, 1991 – University of Iowa massacre perpetrated by Gang Lu, 28, Chinese
July 1, 1993 – 101 California Street shooting perpetrated by Gian Luigi Ferri, 55, Caucasian
December 3, 1993 – Long Island Rail Road massacre perpetrated by Colin Ferguson, 37, Black (Jamaican)
March 24, 1998 – Westside Middle School massacre perpetrated by Mitchell Johnson, 13, & Andrew Golden, 11, both Caucasian
April 20, 1999 – Columbine High School massacre perpetrated by Eric Harris,18, & Dylan Klebold, 17, both Caucasian
July 29, 1999 – Mark O. Barton murders perpetrated by Mark O. Barton, 44, Caucasian
September 5, 1999 – Larry Gene Ashbrook mass murders perpetrated by Larry Gene Ashbrook, 47, Caucasian
December 26, 2000 – Wakefield massacre perpetrated by Michael McDermott, 42, Caucasian
March 5, 2001 – Santana High School massacre perpetrated by Charles Andrew Williams, 15, Caucasian
July 8, 2003 – Lockheed Martin shooting perpetrated by Douglas Williams, 48, Caucasian

Between the last one listed and the Sandy Hook massacre in December of 2012 I found another 17 mass murder cases. While a great many of them were committed by Caucasians, several were committed by Asians and other ethnicities. All of them were males. Their ages varied greatly. Some came from prosperous backgrounds and some from poverty. Others were typical, middle class Americans. Some were abused as children or claimed to be, while others seemed to their friends to be the average boy next door. The only thing they all shared, aside from being males, was that they suffered from depression and were usually loners who were bullied and/or feared. I am no doctor but from what I can tell, people can suffer from depression without being mentally ill but if they are mentally ill that will often include depression. For these killers it didn’t matter if they looked “different” or average, if they had everything or nothing. Their circumstances did not dictate their mindset or their ability to deal with people in a reasonable manner. The only conclusion I can come to is that they suffered from mental illness that kept them from being able to deal with other people the way most of us would. In most cases these killers committed suicide once they had done as much damage as they could and before they could be caught.

Patrick Purdy had a terrible childhood with an alcoholic and drug addicted mother. The product of a divorce, he was passed around between his parents and various relatives throughout his early years. His criminal record was extensive. In a notebook written by Purdy and found in a hotel Purdy had lived in for a while, Purdy complained “I’m so dumb, I’m dumber than a sixth grader. My mother and father were dumb.”

By contrast, Eric Harris, a military brat, appeared to come from a good home. His mother was a homemaker and, while the family moved around as his Air Force father was transferred, I have found nothing to indicate he had anything other than a normal childhood. His older brother was in college when the Columbine massacre occurred. Initially it was thought that Eric and his co-perpetrator, Dylan Klebold, committed these murders to gain revenge against those that had bullied them. However, later analysis concluded that Harris was, in fact, a predatory psychopath. Harris is the one who conceived of the attack.

Colin Ferguson came from a prominent family in Jamaica. His father died in a car crash when Ferguson was 20 and his mother died soon after of cancer. The deaths destroyed the family fortune and Ferguson ended up moving to America. Friends of his indicated that Ferguson complained of racism in America. He was married for roughly two years but his wife divorced him and some who knew them claimed that Ferguson was “too aggressive or antagonistic” towards her.

These are just a few examples of the kind of people who commit these atrocities. Nothing I was able to find on them indicated that their crimes were committed for any other reason than that they suffered from mental illness. Their tool of choice was most often a gun (or several), though Mark O. Barton used a hammer to bludgeon his wife and two children before he shot multiple people at two trading firms in Atlanta. It was suspected that he also murdered his first wife and mother-in-law some six years earlier, also using a hammer to bludgeon them to death.

So what is being done about this obvious problem? Is mental health being taken more seriously by our elected officials? Are we seeking a path to better care for those who are clearly in need of it? Very often family members of those who are the most dangerous live in fear of what their loved one might be capable of. Sometimes they are terrified, even to the point of being afraid for their personal safety. Many of them seek help from local hospitals, agencies and doctors, only to be turned away. Either the services are not available or the cost is exorbitant, or both. And let’s face it; there is a stigma attached to mental illness that can make it difficult for anyone to pursue the necessary help.

I am an avid supporter of the second amendment and I will continue to speak out against any infringement of our rights. But this issue is beyond that. The mental health issue in this nation must be addressed. We must find a way to treat it and to help the families and individuals who don’t know what to do next. I am hopeful that one day we will get back to being Americans instead of letting ourselves be divided for the sake of political parties who are concerned with their own interests and survival, and not with the welfare of the American people. This is a serious issue my friends. Please, let’s treat it as such and do something about it.

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  • In this most or all were liberals or had parents that were left leaning and were medicated or had been medicated. Of course in this article we are not presented with the whole of the problem. That is the number of illegal guns owned by thugs that kill far more people than these with mental illness problems. Although you could also put a great number of them in with them. A third group of course the muslims and they are also within the parameters of being mentally ill as they act up not a faith but, a cult of murder and blood. But, in the end if these groups did not have guns they would still have many ways to kill those that they wanted to as seen by the bomb in Boston.

  • TeaParty Patriot (TTP)

    I keep hearing how the psychobabblers blame these attacks on mental illness. and I agree that the individuals are sick, sick, sick but the problems are not mental illness as the psychobabblers try to define or excuse it. The problem is that the individuals have learned that they do not have to be responsible for thier own actions. It all goes back to having to answer for thier own actions. Grandpa had the right remedy for the spoiled brat syndrome that is evident in the white house today Spare the rod and spoil the child.

    • While I agree with your sentiment, it takes more than a spoiled child to be of a mind to commit such atrocities. I do not claim that mental illness accounts for every horrible act but I cannot believe that a person who was not mentally ill would be capable of conceiving these kinds of acts.

    • Well then that makes entirely the liberals fault. How?? Society use to regulate our children and how they were raised and taught. In this Society was moral and ethical and kept to a set of “rules” that GOD gave us. Society today is not making sure that those who should never touch a weapon are not doing so and they are also not taught from the start respect for them. Liberals over the last several decades have changed the rules and removed moral and ethical behavior from education. And from daily life. For example homosexuals are people with diseased minds and bodies. They from start to finish are literally unethical and immoral by the rules that use to exist. Liberals in changing their role from needing help to having more rights have in this fundamentally changed Society. And this is just one aspect.

  • The only mental health problems are in the White House and both houses of Congress along with the Supreme idiots.

  • Mark

    I am greatly concerned about mental health being used to determine whether you have the right to buy, own, or use a firearm. The reason being what criteria will be used to determine sanity. Their is the potential that if one believes in God, that the Bible is true, creation, is pro-life, is pro-heterosexual marriage only, and is a member of the Republican or Tea Party some might think that they must be mentally unbalanced. Especially if that person believed in all of the before mentioned things. Someone in power who has an agenda could claim that all those who do not agree with him must be mentally ill.

    • I believe in all the things you listed. What the American people have forgotten is that we, the people, are the ones “in power”. When enough of us remember that and get tired of this tyranny we may finally decide to take that power back. But I fear we have a long, hard road ahead of us still. Remember, sometimes God gives us what we ask for, much to our detriment. I’m waiting to see what His will is and in the meantime I’m doing my best to live according to His will and to actively pursue change. Hope you are too. Get involved on a local level and help take America back.

  • Mark

    In addition to my earlier post I wish to state that the main problem causing murder is not mental illness, but sin.

  • Issy
  • ron

    vary good eye opening article here. It is worth the time to read and think on,

  • Jb_fastpitch

    Seems like these all occurred in “Gun free zones” .

  • Timothy S Korte

    The Pure Serotonin Agents used to treat Depression like Prozac raise the likelihood of murder and suicide by 2500% in the person taking them. This can be verified by reading the side effects fine print given with the medicine. I think that something more sinister is at work here. Not only do the drug companies make the Pure Serotonin Agents this way on purpose but Our Beloved Government is taking advantage of this behavior. The Federal Government wants to get Gun Control passed so bad that they will do anything even stage these massacres. Then they can blame mental illness as a cause of violent crime. I predict that Gun Control Bills in the future will have Mental Illness as a stipulation for owning Firearms. But remember the Beloved Government will take advantage of this and eventually say that everyone has Mental Illness and deny Firearms to everyone except the Beloved Government. This Tyrant Government will then begin to kill its own Citizens that they are supposed to serve. This is why the Second Amendment states that ‘the Militia’ all citizens of the United States be armed and never infringe on this Right.

  • Mental illness be it definition, treatment, or prevention isn’t quite as straight forward as many physical illnesses since causes run from brain injury from trauma/age degradation/ infection through likely genetic conditions that create chemical imbalance to situational triggers like job loss/death of a loved one/divorce or the like. Some appear to be treatable or limited is scope and duration and some not and become chronic and broader in scope. Some are triggered by substance abuse but some result in substance abuse as a hoped for means of escaping the negative effects of the illness. Some medicines in use today may also trigger mental problems. Treatment and its effectiveness vary widely by patient as well. This isn’t a straight forward issue and rushing to create a “solution” may cause some significant problems as well.