Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Technically not.  A few were convicted of Manslaughter  or accidental death something else instead, or were never charged, but the hospital has good info... I know at least nine murderers.  There may be more.  I didn't keep track so much in the early years. I never much though about them as a group until this year, when a gun-control question nudged me into generalising.

I think none of them shot their victim.  Two drownings, two vehicular homicide, two arson, two stabbings, and a pushing-off-a-high-place. I know a couple of other negligent homicides, of failing to call the ambulance because they were too high/ too angry. Oh wait.  A strangling and an assault with a baseball bat that resulted in death. Two others who I can't remember how they killed their fathers.  Only three were actually on my caseload - the others just had an understandable notoriety around the hospital.  Most were not convicted of anything.  So eleven, or sixteen, or maybe a few more. A smothering and a throwing a child out a window.  So 13/18.  Quite a lot.  But then, I've been doing this a long time. No shootings, I don't think, except maybe those patricides. I am counting three attempted killings where the victim survived, paralysed, just because the perpetrators would seem to be in the same category.

I don't know what to make of it.

Update: As of Tuesday it will be 14/19. The quickness suggests there have been more. but i haven't noted them as they passed by.  Patients are patients.  They have problems that need addressing, and I am only involved in the criminal side tangentially.


SJ said...

The kind of murderers who use weapons like guns tend not to end up in the care of the psychological hospital?

Or that there are a large number of homocides-by-non-weapons, and you saw a representative sample of them?

You mention two stabbings. This factor may bring in a squishy "it depends" category, on whether or not the knife was a "weapon". From the perspective of the victim, a properly sharp steak-knife is as dangerous as a switchblade. Yet most people won't mentally classify the knife-rack in the kitchen as a collection of bladed weapons.

On the psychological side: were these people stereo-typical murderers, or not?

Stereo-typically crazy, or simply with just enough evidence to be not-competant-to-stand-trial?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Mixed. A few very, very ill; a few not very different from everyone else.

Christopher B said...

My impression is that your experience matches the data. IIRC you have to add suicide by firearm to get real scary numbers of gun deaths.

To SJ's first questions, if you aren't in a particular socio-ethno-economic group your chances of dying by gun homicide are pretty small. Most of that group would probably wind up incarcerated rather than in a mental hospital.

bs king said...

Christopher B: yes, you are completely correct. While the chances of dying via firearm have gone slightly up in the past few years, the chances of being murdered using a firearm have dropped precipitously:

Suicides account for about 2/3rds of overall gun deaths.

From my quick and dirty glance at the data though, about 2/3rds of all USA homicides are gun related.

So to SJs point, it may be that those people don't end up in the mental health system. A large number of those murders were likely done around other crime (robberies, gang violence, etc) so they wouldn't hit the mental health system.

james said...

So is your guess that the crazy tend not to use guns (whether because people keep them away from them or because they're so spontaneous), or that the legal system tends to judge that murderers who use guns aren't crazy?

We've a lad in our town who killed his mother (my wife knew her) with a sword--he's been found incompetent, and everybody agreed on that. Another fellow started shooting up a prom a couple of months ago. (A friend of mine knew him and his family.) I have a gut feeling that if he'd survived he'd have had a harder row to hoe to get a plea of incompetence accepted--bringing along a gun suggests premeditation, and whether reasonably or not that seems to have connotations of competence. To be fair, the first fellow had been diagnosed long ago, but something about using a sword, when other weapons seem much handier, seems off.