19 April 2007

The Drive To Kill

It is an unfair day for loners. Not all loners kill, and not all who kill are loners. That Cho Seung Hui was an eccentric who never spoke and who never smiled might also tell us that maybe he also spent most of his time thinking. It is only unfortunate that most of those thoughts were violent ideations. In my opinion, he wasn't really a true loner. A true loner is so self-absorbed that he wouldn't care about killing other people around him.

The drive to kill people and oneself has been shown to stem from extreme interpersonal difficulties during the teen years. Suicidal tendencies may in turn develop from frequent and repeated experiences of interpersonal problems. Maladaptive parenting and childhood maltreatment are identified as key factors associated with a risk of developing interpersonal problems later on. Bully-victim problems mixed with low social support has also been linked to a certain degree of suicidal ideations.

It all boils down to how your parents took care of you when you were small, and how happy or sad your childhood was.

Cho Seung Hui was called the "question mark" of Harper Hall (his dormitory) because he wrote a question mark in his attendance sheets. He never said hello to everyone. People around him said they never heard him spoke. His creative writing skills will only humor the likes of Quentin Tarantino. He never talked to anyone and he never had a visitor (family or friends) in his dormitory. He stalked women and took pictures under desks of his female classmates' skirts.

That profile alone will tell you that Cho was showing warning signs that needed to be addressed with haste. He needed help pronto! But who was there to give ito him? His parents? These days, parents are one of the last to know what is really happening with their children. His teachers? They sent him to mental health services but it is unclear what kind of help he got there. Surveys have shown that US students' use of campus mental health services had risen for the past 3 years. 'Shows us how grave the problem is.

It was also unclear if Cho was taking antidepressants. What about it? Well, antidepressants have been linked in the past with an increased risk for suicidal behavior. It is also very timely that a JAMA study was released yesterday saying that antidepressants' benefits outweigh its risks. The new study says that only 1 out of 100 children and teenagers taking antidepressants had experienced worsening suicidal feelings in comparison to the FDA's analysis of 2 out of 100 antidepressant takers. Both studies emphasized that no real suicide event was observed. Why, of course! Suicides are often committed in secret. Any study will clearly have difficulty observing a suicide happening.

But does it really matter if the figure is 1 or 2 out of 100 antidepressant users experiencing worsening suicide thoughts?

It only takes one troubled man to annihilate a lot of people. The Cho example speaks for itself. Authorities should look into that. Everyone should be alert enough to notice the warning signs when they appear.
Otherwise, I fear there would be more horrible incidents like this.

5 reactions:

Paul said...

A big problem here, as in so many matters, is corporate-controlled health "care" where maximizing profits is put ahead of everything else wherever it's possible for them to get away with it.

As a school counselor who was often in the position of wanting to refer children or parents out for more than I could offer, I repeatedly ran into parents who, if they had insurance, had at best very limited coverage - for, say, ten sessions in a year. They were actually better off if they were completely indigent since that's what it takes to meet standards for federal and state assistance.

And today, as a severely disabled fifty year old with an extremely rare condition and adaptive needs too unique for an institutional setting, I'm living the reality of our market driven home health aide system.

No open wound? No nurse. Period. No matter how complex your condition what you get is high turnover, very badly paid, low skill non-professionals who sometimes come with an attitude - understandable, considering they're being exploited and know it.

Pete said...

This worst school shooting incident in America's history with 32 deaths(31+the gunman)will be surpassed many times in our lifetime thanks to the liberal gun laws in the states. If Cho has no access to firearms and he used a knife or a baseball bat on his rampage the worst he could do with it was mortally wounded a maximum of five people before the rest jumps on him.

Ipanema said...

After reading everything, I'm wondering why there are no posts about his family except for a sister who works with the State Dept. engaged in Iraq contractors something. We know what he did. I'm interested to know how he was in the family or his family itself. Was there something in there that triggered his behaviour? Still waiting for this side. It will be a revelation.

bayi said...

I am sure there was a major trauma or a prolonged pattern of maladjustment in the killer's childhood that contributed to this. Surprisingly, none of the school counselors or teachers saw this coming. I am still against the laws allowing easy possession of guns.

Roy said...

The comment on antidepressants is interesting. So if he had antidepressants on board, the drug may be blamed for his behavior (we've gotta blame someone other than him, right?).

And if he did NOT have medications on board, the fact that he wasn't in treatment will be blamed.

Truth is, as in the JAMA article, that you probably prevent more of these incidents by treating with meds (and therapy) than you do by avoiding the medications.

Similarly, vaccines cause a predictable number of deaths per year. But we keep using them because the number of deaths prevented from the disease is higher.