Experts: Violence difficult to predict - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Experts: Violence difficult to predict


As more details about the shooting at Sandy Hook School emerge, attention is turning to the mental health arena and what causes someone to commit this kind of violent act.

In a statement, 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza's father said relatives are "trying to find whatever answers we can…We too are asking why." Local doctors say "the why" may be hard to determine.

While we've witnessed scenes like the one at Sandy Hook in the recent past, this kind of horrific violence never gets easier to understand, says Dr. Bela Sood with the Virginia Treatment Center for Children.

"Someone who went in and killed twenty kids in cold blood has to have passed the threshold of decency," she explained.

Dr. Sood worked on the Virginia Tech massacre panel, which tried to put together the pieces of a psychological profile. She believes authorities have to go through Adam Lanza's history with a fine tooth comb.

"What makes sense," she asked. "Was this an act which was really a culmination of the entire life history? Or was this an impulsive behavior, which cannot be connected to them at all? So there could be many, many reasons. It could be life stressors."

NBC News has learned Lanza was described as bright, painfully shy, suffering from a mental disorder and unstable. Dr. Alan Entin says that last descriptor could help parents in the future.

"In what way was he unstable-- In terms of his relationship with other people, in terms of grades, in terms of becoming violent, talking back to her," he inquired. "That's what's the more predictive."

"As with physical health, any time there are red flags which come up, which make you feel that the behavior is deviant from what you would consider normal, you can get a mental health check," Dr. Sood advised.

Both say from what they're learning about the gunman, no one could have foreseen this kind of tragic outcome.

"It is extremely hard to predict with 100 percent certainty a person's potential for violence," Sood added.

Both doctors also maintain the issue gets more complicated when a person is older than 18, like Adam Lanza. You cannot force help unless the person is an imminent danger to himself or others, which as they've explained is not always obvious.

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