What you need to know about his mental health
Micah Xavier Johnson, 25 years old from Mesquite, Texas, seemed to be one of America's heroes...an army veteran. With no known ties to terror, no criminal past, and a record as an upstanding member of the U.S. military with a completed tour to Afghanistan, how could it be that this young man with a bright future went on to commit one of the deadliest attacks on law enforcement since 9/11?
There is no doubt that race played a role. During negotiations with Dallas law enforcement, Micah expressed vitriol towards white people and the police. Race is indeed a factor, but is it the only factor? Could Micah have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder due to his tour in Afghanistan? Statistics show that 10-20% of Iraq and Afghanistan vets returned home with PTSD, how can we tell if Micah was one of them?
Does PTSD Cause Violence?
While it is not accurate to say that PTSD directly causes violence, there is definitive data correlating postwar homicides and PTSD. Living in a war zone and being exposed to gruesome acts on a daily basis can in some cases cause veterans to become unhinged, mentally unstable and possibly violent.
Symptoms of PTSD :
- Anger and irritability
- Trouble concentrating
- Extreme anxiety, paranoia and fearing for your safety or the safety of others
- Impulsive behaviors
- Change of beliefs, social norms and personalty traits
- Unstable moods
- Isolation from family and friends
Post traumatic stress disorder affects everyone differently. According to CNN, Micah Johnson's Neighbors said that he was reclusive and anti-social, seeming to keep to himself. Was that one of the warning signs of an underlying problem?
A 2010 study was funded by the Marine Corps who wanted to know whether or not PTSD could result in violence once the veterans returned home. What they found was not surprising. Out of the 1,543 Marines who participated and had completed at least one combat tour- the study showed that those marines who had reported symptoms of PTSD were six times more likely to exhibit anti-social and aggressive/violent behaviors. Does this mean that every person with PTSD is going to go on a shooting rampage...no. But what this does tell us is that PTSD can increase the likelihood of violence for those that are affected.
Micah Xavier Johnson has no excuse for what he did, even if it was in part caused by PTSD. But while politicians and law enforcement are investigating the motivations and contributing factors of this crime such as guns and racism, it would be wise to understand his mental health so we can continue to make sure that our veterans get the help hat they need.