(WWLP) – The recent mass shooting in Maine has highlighted the complexity of mental illness and its relationship to violent behavior. The suspect in the shooting is said to have had a history of mental health issues. 

According to the Associated Press, since Wednesday’s shootings at a bowling alley and bar that sent panicked patrons scrambling under tables and behind bowling pins and gripped the entire state of Maine in fear, hundreds of law enforcement agents, including dozens of FBI agents, have been hunting for Robert Card, a 40-year-old reservist with a history of mental health issues.

Authorities last searched a home Thursday for Card who authorities say killed 18 people and wounded 13 others in the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.

What is the background of Card’s mental health? This past summer, Card had been committed to a mental health facility after hearing voices and threats to shoot up a military base.

The Army Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment in West Point, New York, became concerned about Card while he was training. Due to concerns for his safety, the unit requested that law enforcement be contacted. 

State police took Card to the Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point for evaluation, according to the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the information and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Card was held at the facility for two weeks before being released.  

The National Institute of Justice indicates mental illness doesn’t always play a role in mass shootings, but researchers found 30% of mass shooters were suicidal before the shooting. The report explains mass shooters in the U.S. over the last half century were commonly troubled by personal trauma before their shooting incidents, nearly always in crisis at the time, and almost always leaked their plans before shooting.

Researchers also found Psychosis, a mental disorder that can cause a person to experience delusions and hallucinations, played a minor role in nearly one-third of mass shootings, but a primary role in 10%.

The Bay Path University Program Director for Graduate Psychology, Dr. Kristina Hallett tells 22News mental health care needs to be prioritized across the US. “Just being a human is hard, we can’t get away from stress, but when we can support mental health and getting that out to everyone, actually increasing access so there’s not waiting lines, so that people can maybe go to their physician and have an integrated clinician right there in the office, then all of us benefit from that and that makes our world stronger,” said Dr. Hallett.

She says no easy answer exists for mental health and mass shootings. It is a reminder of how difficult it is to predict and prevent these types of tragedies.

“We’re all human, we all have health, we all have mental health, and if we want to be the best that we can be, if we want to connect with other people, if we want to make advances in the world, so that we are not having shootings and that we have peace, well that ‘s when we really need to get involved, in healthcare, supporting healthcare and for me particularly supporting mental health care,” explained Hallett.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Local News

Kayleigh Thomas is a digital reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Kayleigh on X @kayleighcthomas and view her bio to see more of her work.