Mental health a factor in recent murder case

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Ally Daskalopoulos

 

Almost every day we hear about people who have lost their lives. Whether it is the anniversary of 9/11, the obituary section of the newspaper or a murder, we are constantly reminded of death. More often than not, our hearts go out to those suffering from the loss of a loved one. But, do we take the time to investigate why their lives were cut short, or how their families ended up in those circumstances?

When someone is murdered, evidence is sought to prove that someone has committed that crime. I think most will agree that murder is not a sane thought that comes into our heads every day.

It is that realization that proves anyone who premeditatedly kills someone is mentally disturbed. Many times, mentally disturbed criminals do not receive the help they need. They are convicted and then belong to the state or country where the crime took place.

They are dehumanized and can no longer participate as an active member in society. The lack of aid is a unfortunate reality and can be even more difficult to excavate from the everyday murders we hear about on TV.

In recent news, further conclusions have been drawn from the trial of Oscar Pistorius.

According to a CNN article, Pistorius was not convicted for any murder charges. He is guilty of “culpable homicide,” which, according to South African law, is the equivalent to “negligent killing.”

There is one sentence in this article that touches on his past. One sentence explains briefly the argument of the defense that reveals Pistorius grew up knowing that his mother always “carried a firearm.” One sentence enlightens us on the distinct possibility that Pistorius could have been affected by the environment of his youth. He had a gun, he used it and now he is on trial for murder. Nonetheless, Reeva Steenkamp is dead.

The definition of murder can be difficult to pinpoint. There are different types of murder, manslaughter and homicide, to take into account when determining fault and intent. Not to mention, the mistakes of human beings, accidents or not, can result in the disorderly and devastating results of misinterpreting information.

Criminal.findlaw.com defines second degree murder as “an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable “heat of passion;” or a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender’s obvious lack of concern for human life.” I believe that if someone kills another human being, it is murder. Simple as that.

There are many times when people are convicted of an accidental murder and receive nearly life sentences and they are of excellent mental health.

In Pistorius’ case, they aren’t even using his mental health as a primary indicator for the case, and yet he has not been convicted of murder.

What news articles fail to elaborate on are the actions that would cause someone like Pistorius to commit such an act. As readers, all we know the facts of the case, but many times we never know the mental health of the accused. In cases like Pistorius’, it’s briefly mentioned, but often overlooked. My fear is that the mentally ill criminals will not receive the treatment they need, and will not be punished fairly or accurately for the crimes they have committed. The Pistorius trial confirms my concerns.