Alaska Dispatch News
Originally posted January 12, 2016
The glaring failures surrounding Esteban Santiago, resulting in the tragic killing of five people and wounding of eight others in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, prompts me to make some points about our misguided mental health system.
First, psychiatrists have no ability to predict who is going to be violent. In a Jan. 3, 2013, Washington Post article, "Predicting violence is a work in progress," after reviewing the research, writer David Brown, reported:
• "There is no instrument that is specifically useful or validated for identifying potential school shooters or mass murderers."
• "The best-known attempt to measure violence in mental patients found that mental illness by itself didn't predict an above-average risk of being violent."
• "(S)tudies have shown psychiatrists' accuracy in identifying patients who would become violent was slightly better than chance."
• "(T)he presence of a mental disorder (is) only a small contributor to risk, outweighed by other factors such as age, previous violent acts, alcohol use, impulsivity, gang membership and lack of family support."
The article is here.