A past president of the West Virginia Psychological Association says “evil does exist.”
That is why Dr. Jeff Hammond says no one may ever be able to say for sure, in any rationale way, what exactly prompted last week’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“It is quite possible that this young man, for whatever reason, chose to provide these behaviors in a way that is just hard for most people to understand,” said Dr. Hammond from Morgantown on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.
Dr. Hammond has no direct knowledge of any mental health treatment for Adam Lanza, 20, who shot himself after killing 27 people Friday in Newtown. His mother, Nancy, was among the dead.
Reports indicate Lanza was developmentally disabled in some way.
Investigators say Lanza used a Bushmaster semiautomatic assault style rifle and a handgun in the Friday rampage, weapons that belonged to his mother. Each of the victims was shot multiple times after he shot his way into the school.
“Our questions would be, what signs were available to this individual and what kinds of interventions could have been made?” Hammond said.
“And not just in this particular case, but generally in cases of people who are struggling who have had traumatic experiences who are feeling distraught and disenfranchised.”
Dr. Hammond says what happened in Newtown is not typical of people with mental illnesses, but the shootings should prompt larger discussions about mental health treatment. “Most people with mental illness do not pose a risk of serious violence to others,” he said.
Funeral services will continue Tuesday for the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
For more information about mental illnesses and the help available in West Virginia, you can go to www.wvpsychology.org