The age of the American psycho should lead to greater focus on mental health
Now that it’s October 2013 is on the tail end of its existence. It’s been a year full of many positive things, sure, but also full of gut-wrenching national tragedies and far too much bloodshed.
But I digress.
With what seems like a gross increase in these mass shootings, bombings and massacres, it only seems appropriate to examine the aftermath of these crimes and our reaction to them.
For the majority of Americans, these killers are viewed as little more than animals. When captured, they’re our conquests. We rejoice in their incarcerations and celebrate our good fortune as they’re pumped full of a cocktail of barbiturates and paralytics.
Admittedly, it’s something that’s too easily justifiable, especially during times when national camaraderie is a welcome break from nationwide misery. However, it’s definitely not right nor accurate for everybody out there, but it’s how a significant portion of our culture has grown to respond to such news.
Instead of considering the job done upon capture, it’s important to be aware of how many factors play out after a crime.
For starters, criminals may be content with disregarding the legal implications of their actions because they potentially won’t be around to deal with them.
Ariel Castro, infamous kidnapper of three from Cleveland, was found hanging in his cell just a month after receiving his life sentence in prison. Gunman Adam Lanza shot himself shortly after murdering 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Seung-Hui Cho, after committing the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, took his own life at Virginia Tech University.
It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found bleeding in a Newton resident’s backyard boat, anticipated dying a quiet death after killing three and injuring more than 200 Bostonians.
Assuming the suspect makes it out alive and punishable, it’s still a far cry from victory for American people as a whole.
A study released by the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology estimated the cost of a murder — including a trial, incarceration, the opportunity cost of the offender’s time, etc. — could reach almost $17 million.
In light of this, perhaps our best reaction to these murderers being captured or committing suicide isn’t to celebrate our victory against them, but to place a heightened focus on preventative measures, including investments in mental health care, community outreach and suicide prevention programs.
It’s not a complete fix, and it won’t solve all of our nation’s problems with gun violence, but it’s a solid start in building a platform for substantial reform and nationwide progress.
After all, 2013’s been a pretty busy year, and not in the way we’d like to reflect on.
Senior staff columnist Cara Smith is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected]