Mental health stigma playing a role in conversation after deadly - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Mental health stigma playing a role in conversation after deadly shooting

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19-year-old Nikolas Cruz (Image Courtesy: MGN Online/Broward County Sheriff's Office) 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz (Image Courtesy: MGN Online/Broward County Sheriff's Office)
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

The mental health stigma plays a role in conversation the day after this latest mass shooting.

Months before authorities say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into his former high school and killed 17 people, he began showing what may have been warning signs he was violent.

Investigators said it’s possible he had been treated for mental illness in the past.

The 19-year-old was expelled last year for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, according to authorities.

Details continue to emerge about his background as a junior ROTC cadet, a member of a white nationalist group, and an orphan. Cruz's mother died just a few months ago.

It’s not clear if the gunman was diagnosed with any sort of mental disorder.

Last year, President Trump signed a bill into law rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.

In the hours since the attack, students have reported to police that the gunman had threatened other students, talked about killing animals and posed with guns in disturbing photos on social media.

After his arraignment, Cruz’s defense attorney spoke to reporters about the teen’s mental state:
 
“He’s a broken human being. He’s a broken child," said Public Defender Melisa McNeil. 
 
Jim Goodwin, CEO of the Center for Human Development told Western Mass News there are some warning signs to look out for in children, such as those who have been victims of violence, bullying, have a history of substance abuse, or have witnessed those things in people close to them.

Goodwin said there’s something children can do to help peers who may be suffering.

“Kids need to be aware of how they can help other kids and they also need to be aware of the price that isolating another child is gonna have on that person," Goodwin noted. 
 
He said there’s a stigma around mental health.
 
“There’s a belief that you should be able to do it on your own, you should be tough enough to handle it. If you’re trying to put yourself forward as a strong, tough man and you’re out there asking for help, it implies a sort of weakness," he added. 
 
According to CHD, mental illness likely affects more people than identify with it. there are 24-hour resources available for anyone who needs them at CHD. 
 
The CHD provides a 24-hour number anyone can call for mental or emotional health services. That phone number is 844-243-4357.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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