This weekend an autopsy of Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, revealed that he had no brain abnormalities. Apparently, President Trump did not get this memo as he told reporters that Paddock had an “extremely bad brain.” The comment is not only untrue, but could help to extenuate already dangerous stereotypes about those with mental health issues.
"I guess a lot of people think they understand what happened, but he was a demented, sick individual,” Trump told reporters at a cabinet meeting at the White House this Monday, Business Insider reported. “The wires were crossed pretty badly in his brain. Extremely badly in his brain. And it's a very sad event.”
Politico reports that it is not clear what facts, if any, Trump's remark was based on, as a recent autopsy of the gunman's body revealed quite the opposite, The autopsy, carried out by Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, revealed no abnormalities in Paddock's brain—this means no brain tumors, no damage from drug or alcohol abuse, no chronic encephalopathy (CTE) and no clear evidence of mental health disorders, the New York Post reports.
Two weeks ago, Paddock killed 58 people and injured 546 when he opened fire during a country musical festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the moment there is still no motive to explain what led the otherwise quiet retiree to conduct the most deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Following the initial incident, some reports suggested that the shooter must have been suffering from a serious mental health condition, although the shooter had never been diagnosed. Some mental health experts fear that false association of the mentally ill with violent acts could further emphasize the already existing stigma, and cause some to avoid reaching out for help and medication for fear of being stigmatized.
In reality, the mentally ill are more often the victims of crime, not the culprits, The Hill reported. Statistics show that only three to five percent of all violent acts are committed by individuals with a mental illness, but a 1999 study shows this population is at a higher risk than the general public from being victims of violent crimes, such as assault, rape, or mugging.
In an attempt to figure out the motive behind Paddock’s crime, investigators will continue to delve into Paddock’s history. But because he killed himself after his attack, we will likely never understand what drove him to callously murder so many.
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