Local experts weigh in on CT shooting mental health questions

By Chad Weber

December 17, 2012 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 1:29 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Many questions still remain for those trying to process the lives loss in Newtown Connecticut last Friday, especially how a person could take the lives of 20 innocent children.

The question has brought the issue of mental health in America to the forefront, among other things.

Dan Ebbert, a psychologist at the Antioch Group in Peoria, said the issue of mental health needs to be handled with the same seriousness and attention as any physical ailment.

"I think that there is and may always be some kind of stigma with mental health treatment, mental health concerns as opposed to visiting a physician," said Ebbert. "When we do see signs such as withdrawal, isolation, loneliness, depression, or anything along those lines that we can alert people to those signs to try and get people help."

Some reports are claiming the alleged shooter suffered from a mild form of autism that may have contributed to his actions.

Health experts however, say there is no direct link between the disorder and violent behavior, especially that of a pre-meditated fashion.

Carla Morris, of Easter Seals, said the actions of the shooter are unlikely related to any degree of autism.

"The mental illnesses that would most likely have a component of danger or violence would be those where they are not in touch with reality," explained Morris. "Either they are having hallucinations or delusions of some sort and those are really very rare."

Morris said those with autism may have trouble feeling empathy for others, but that behavior only usually leads them away from social interaction.

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