A Relationship Between Mental Illness and Mass Murder? Not So Fast, Experts Say

A Relationship Between Mental Illness and Mass Murder? Not So Fast, Experts Say (Image from the public domain, courtesy of clker.com user OCAL)
A Relationship Between Mental Illness and Mass Murder? Not So Fast, Experts Say (Image from the public domain, courtesy of clker.com user OCAL)

In the shadow of the recent murder-suicide at Casper College and the tragic shooting massacre in Newton, Connecticut, many are examining - and questioning - the mental states of the attackers. Sheridan Media's Chris Foy has the story.

Both the attacker in the Casper College killings, Christopher Krumm, and the shooter in the Newtown slayings, Adam Lanza, are presumed to have Asperger's syndrome - a type of high-functioning autism. The syndrome itself is not typically associated with violence, but following the recent tragedies, and for better or worse, Asperger's syndrome has fallen under the public spotlight.

Asperger's syndrome falls under the category of autism spectrum disorder and is usually characterized by difficulties in social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. Many of those with Asperger's are intensely occupied with music, for example, science, or engineering and often have a fascination with intricate details related to these and other subjects.

Some researchers have said Asperger's syndrome is not a disorder or a disability and some have posited that those with Asperger's can lead successful careers in math, science, engineering and musical fields.

Mead Gruver with the Associated Press writes that Krumm explained his actions in a suicide note he left at the scene of the murder of his father, James Krumm, and in an identical note found at his father's home, where he murdered his father's then-girlfriend, Heidi Arnold.

The Associated Press reports that Krumm's suicide note was entitled "Tired of Having Asperger Syndrome - America Should Look to China."

Krumm wrote that he was bitter towards his father for giving birth to him and blamed him for giving him the syndrome. But amidst Krumm's note, police are cautioning the public not to make any quick judgments based on its contents.

Kurtis Lee with the Denver Post reports that experts believe the type of violence these killers exhibited is uncommon amongst those with Asperger's.

In an interview with The Denver Post, Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at the UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said that it's possible Lanza had Asperger's - but it's likely Lanza had mental health issues as well.

Many researchers are cautioning the public to avoid categorizing those with the form of high-functioning autism not to jump to conclusions and presume those with the syndrome are mentally unstable.

Parents whose children have Asperger's syndrome have a variety of support groups to tap into, including this online community specifically for parents.

Additionally, those struggling with any type of mental issues have a variety of resources nearby, which can be found below.

Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center Resources

Sheridan County

Substance Abuse Office
1043 Coffeen Avenue, Suite B
Sheridan, WY 82801-2701
Phone: 674-7702; Fax: 674-7875

Mental Health Office
1221 West 5th Street
Sheridan, WY 82801-4878
Phone: 674-4405; Fax: 673-5167

Johnson County

Outpatient Office
521 West Lott Street
Buffalo, WY 82834-1689
Phone: 684-5531; Fax: 684-2990
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Monday through Friday

Kaycee Family Clinic
Holt Street
Kaycee, WY 82639
Phone: (307) 738-2404

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