When I looked at the state of reporting on mental-health issues after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, I saw a forbidding landscape
. John Head sees improvement. When he started reporting on mental health for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the turn of the century, a diagnosis or even a suggestion that a violent person was mentally ill "was end of story," he said in a telephone interview. "That explained it."
- John Head
But after some news outlets reported that shooter Adam Lanza may have had Asperger's syndrome
, Head said, "I’ve also seen things like reporting that the mother might have been trying to get him committed. I’ve seen in most cases people follow up. I’ve also seen a lot of reporting about how difficult it is for a family, or in this case a single mother, to deal with a child who is suffering."
And in fact one of the most-talked-about analyses that followed Newtown was written by a woman whose son has extremely challenging behavioral issues. Liza Long's provocatively titled essay "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother"
has spawned lots of responses, from a psychiatrist
, from a parenting blogger
, from Hanna Rosin
That kind of conversation is an improvement, NPR science reporter Jon Hamilton said: "Virginia Tech, Columbine — in every one of these instances there’s been some talk about mental health issues. I think what’s happened is the experts and advocacy groups have realized it’s a given it's gonna come out and you should get out in front."