Three young men are accused of committing, or planning to commit horrible crimes in metro Denver recently.
They are 23-year-old James Holmes, the alleged Aurora theater shooter, 17-year-old Austin Sigg, under arrest in the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Ridgeway, and 20-year-old Mitch Kusick, accused of plotting the mass murder of Westminster trick or treaters and threatening to kill President Obama.
One of the most shocking things about these three suspects is how young they are. But experts say their age could be a clue as to what’s going on psychologically.
All three are young, white men. All said to be intelligent and from relatively stable families. And while they may have been described as odd, there is no history of violence.
Forensic psychologist, Dr. Max Wachtel says, “These kinds of planned out mass shootings are most often carried out by middle aged white males. We don’t know why this is.”
And he says the young age of these suspects is alarming. He says, “My fear is this is a scary trend that’s going to continue for a while.”
There are indications Holmes and Kusick both have mental health issues and that does not surprise Wachtel. He notes all three are right about the age where schizophrenia and psychosis start to develop. And he says in younger adults and teens, depression comes out as anger, not sadness.
Researchers don’t know exactly what triggers mental illness or why some violent thoughts turn into violent actions.
But Wachtel says there are red flags.
He says if your child starts withdrawing from friends and family, their grades drop or they begin abusing drugs or alcohol, you need to talk to them.
Wachtel also says if the child is talking about violence, you need to involve professionals, both police and therapists. He says chances are your child would never do anything violent, but it is something you have to take seriously.