School shooter mentally ill

To the editor,

The 15-year-old boy who shot several schoolmates in Michigan killing four was apparently mentally ill.

As I followed the school shooting it became apparent to me that the student shooter was most likely schizophrenic. He was hearing words in his head (auditory hallucinations), clear signs of this mental illness. The words probably told him to kill someone, as the shooting was apparently random, and he concluded that the only way he could stop the words was to kill someone. That, of course, will not stop the words from still coming, but he did not know that. But in his psychotic state, he made a rational, but terrible decision.

Apparently neither the school nor his parents were aware of his condition, nor that schizophrenia most often comes on in adolescence or young adulthood, so it should have been considered when the boy showed signs of concern. (A teacher saw he had written “Can’t stop the voices. Help me.” She took him to the principal and they called in his mother. (But no one at the school nor the parent picked up on this major sign of the boy’s condition.)

Schizophrenia is usually treatable with drugs and other therapy. He should have been taken immediately to a mental health facility. This is the really sad part of the story. It did not have to happen, but lack of information is an understandable excuse. All parents and secondary school teachers should have this information — and now you do!

Bob Schreiber

Retired AFHS school counsel

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