College shooting: Part 45,656

I don’t like this idea of college shootings becoming commonplace. I think there have been three or four major college shootings since the Virginia Tech incident.

Steve Kazmierczak, an alumnus of Northern Illinois University, went ballistic shooting up a geology class and killed five students before killing himself. The AP article sums up Kazmierczak’s demeanor:

Unlike Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui — a sullen misfit who could barely look anyone in the eye, much less carry on a conversation — Kazmierczak appeared to fit in just fine.

The AP article cites that he "stopped taking [his] medication." It appears that he had no record of mental illness at all. He applied for and legally obtained a gun after a background check.

The issue of mental illness in these school shootings is constantly brought up. While I don’t dismiss the unstable mental health of Cho or Kazmierczak, I can’t help but wonder what this means for the rest of us who struggle with mental illness. If I tell someone that I have bipolar disorder, does that mean I’m likely to commit homicide and suicide despite the fact that I have a bubbly, outgoing, and talkative personality?

The link between mental illness and these school shootings will only continue to fuel the stigma relating to mental illness. Despite the fact that the majority of people who suffer from mental health problems are nonviolent, the minority who are violent will get the press coverage and become poster evidence for people like the TAC.

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2 Comments

  1. Karol Karolak said,

    February 16, 2008 at 12:52 am

    None of the so called miraculous psychotropic drugs address real issues underlying mental illnesses like schizophrenia; all that they ever do is address symptoms.
    Just think of someone suffering from tuberculosis that is given an inhaler that stops his coughing. Does this inhaler cure tuberculosis?? No. Does it stop spread of disease?? No. What does it do then??? It prevents coughing nothing more.
    “Miracle” psychotropic drug like Zyprexa (Olanzapine) or Resperidal (Resperidone) block serotonin receptors and dopamine receptors in brains of people suffering from schizophrenia and are slowing down and terminating neural signals transmissions in affected individuals. The regions of the brain (containing traumatic memories) that generate visual and auditory hallucinations are basically prevented from communicating with regions of brain responsible for basic functioning of affected individual.
    In essence Zyprexa and Resperidal act as chemical lobotomising agent flooding whole brain of affected individual. Once psychiatrists get rid of the most obvious symptoms they go on and pretend that they have cured their patient and that he or she is ready to join society and function normally (providing he or she takes his or her meds).
    I just wonder how would it work out if doctors were doing same thing with people suffering from tuberculosis and we were sending them out of the hospital with inhalers?
    We know so much about real causes of schizophrenia (traumatic experiences of childhood that were never emotionally processed by affected individual) but current options of quick fix of alleviating symptoms by use the of Zyprexa prevents us from developing effective methods of therapy of psychiatric patients.
    Instead of hospitalization and intensive psychotherapy (object relation therapy) that can be greatly enhanced and sped up by use of antidepressants and resulting intensification of symptoms due to increased neural transmission we create holding tanks for psychiatric patients where we use psychotropic drugs to suppress symptoms of their mental illness and send them back into the environment that made them mentally ill in a first place.
    There must be a better way and modern antidepressants combined with proper psychotherapy in proper hospital setting hold a great promise in that respect. Recent discoveries of strengthening of proper (adaptive) neural connections thru antidepressants enhanced psychotherapy and neurogenesis phenomena resulting from prolonged use of antidepressants indicate that this promise is very real and that it is within our grasp.
    Anecdotal evidence of effectiveness of psychotherapy from a movie “Patch Adams”, where Robin Williams signs himself into psychiatric ward and tunes in and starts a dialogue with highly psychotic patient sharing with him hospital room holds much more truth to it that anybody would have ever imagined.

  2. Pistol Pete said,

    February 23, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    It is tragic that mental illness carries such a stigma thanks in part to media attention to events such as these.
    As someone who has battled Bipolar over 13 years, though, I would only say that rage and violence can be an ever-present reality for many of us – if we do not receive (and accept) proper treatment.
    The real tragedy is that we’ve yet to find the most effective ways to put medical science to work promoting healing for so many hurting folks who could well hurt others.


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