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Published on December 19th, 2012

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Mental Illness, Murder and Reflecting on Newtown

For a number of years, I covered mental-health issues for the Wall Street Journal, writing about such devastating topics as school shootings, teenage suicide, and the desperate struggle of parents to find help for a child who is mentally ill. All of those stories came flooding back to me this week, amid the terrible news from Newtown, Conn. and the speculation that mental illness may have played a role in this tragedy.

In case after case that I wrote about where a person became violent, toward himself or others, someone loved him and often knew something was wrong, but didn’t—or couldn’t—get him the help he needed.

It’s important to be clear: We don’t know whether Adam Lanza suffered from mental illness and research shows that the majority of people with psychiatric disorders do not commit violent acts.

But as news unfolded about what happened in Newtown, one story particularly haunts me: Four years ago, my colleague, Nathan Koppel, and I wrote a front-page article about William Bruce, a young man with paranoid schizophrenia who bludgeoned his mother to death with a hatchet.

At the time, Bruce told me he was suffering through a psychotic break; he believed his mother was an al Qaeda operative and he was a special agent reporting directly to President George W. Bush.

Source: Wall Street Journal (blog) Read full article. (link)

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