While many people are looking at gun control laws in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, many more are considering mental illness and the way it's approached in the U.S.
“I think what we need is not metal detection, it's mental health detection,” said Dr. Daniel Bober, an adolescent and child psychiatrist.
There needs to be more mental health screening in schools, he said.
“I think we as a community have to take responsibility for this. We can't just leave it in the hands of the parents now, because it affects us all as a community,” Bober said.
The 20-year-old man authorities identified as the shooter of the deadly rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Adam Lanza, had Asperger’s syndrome, according to news reports.
“Just because he happened to have something on the autistic spectrum, I don't feel is a big contributor to the violence – except for the fact that again, kids with this type of disorder do have problems with empathy towards others,” Bober said.
Lanza’s aunt said Saturday she couldn’t understand why he would kill his mother at their home, followed by 26 victims and himself at the school.
“If he needed help I know they would have gotten it for him, because they were the type of parents, even when they were married as well as being separated, if the kids had a need they would definitely fill it,” Marsha Lanza said.
More often the trigger behind a mass shooting is mental illness, Bober said.
Parents need to be aware of possible warning signs of trouble, including isolation and withdrawal, acting out, and dramatic changes in behavior, he said.
“They're better off seeking a mental health professional than thinking it's just a phase and turning a blind eye to it,” Bober said.
He stressed that all parents need to careful about exposing their children to firearms in the home, but said that should be avoided when there is a developmental disorder or mental health issue.