Mental health services key to reducing violence

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LIFE LOST—Pastor Joyce Stoudemire of Mt. Piski Church leads a vigil march for Ka’Sandra Wade. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)

 

by Rebecca Nuttall
On Jan. 12, advocacy group Action United held a vigil in memory of Ka’Sandra Wade, a 33-year-old mother who was shot and killed by her boyfriend Anthony Brown on New Year’s Day. The following day Brown shot and killed himself after police surrounded the building where he lived.
This recent local tragedy is just one of many similar incidents over the past year, including the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend and later shot himself last December.
In searching for answers in these tragedies, many are advocating for stricter gun laws and programs to address domestic violence. Others are advocating for increasing access to mental health services.
According to a 2009 study of murder-suicides, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, these incidents most commonly involve a man killing his wife, girlfriend, ex-wife or ex-girlfriend. The study, found that depression was the leading diagnosis found in murder-suicide perpetrators.
Despite the apparent link between murder-suicide and depression, African-Americans are less likely than other racial groups to seek help when dealing with depression. According to a 2007 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry that surveyed more than 3,500 Black respondents, only 45 percent of those in need of treatment for depression received it.

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