February 29th, 2012
04:14 PM ET

Preventing murder by the seriously mentally ill

Editor's Note: Dr. Frank Ochberg is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Michigan State University and former Associate Director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

By Frank Ochberg – Special to CNN

Is T. J. Lane, the seventeen year old boy who allegedly killed three classmates in Ohio, mentally ill? We do not know. But this tragedy evokes other recent spree shootings that have ignited a national conversation, sometimes harsh, but generally thoughtful - and urgent: What can prevent murder by someone who is spiraling into serious and deadly illness?

When a mentally ill person is a killer - a rare but terrifying phenomenon - it is hard to empathize. We think of him as alien. We have no basis for identification. We are shocked by the deed. Indeed, some killings are so bizarre as to evoke horror, disgust and disbelief. FULL POST

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Topics: Global