Martin Luther King Jr. would not have been surprised. So close to the national holiday of his birthday, we have yet another attempt at assassination and mass murder. Maybe he would even recognize some of our current reactions.
1. Mental Illness and Violence
Research seems to indicate that the mentally ill are not more violent than the rest of the population, though the risk of violence can be higher for some untreated mental disorders. Moreover, violence is hard to predict in general, though some variables are helpful: prior violence, a target, a plan, and, especially in psychiatry, command auditory hallucinations to hurt someone.
The Tarasoff decision legally requires us to report any patient who seems to be at risk for hurting someone specifically. Of course, the ethical dilemma is that we do so at the risk of losing them as a patient when they find out what we have done, which can be further compounded if law enforcement does nothing about our concern.