Daniel Halliday
May 9 · Last update 2 mo. ago.
Is a terror attack still terrorism when carried out by someone with mental health problems?
On 27th April 2019 Isaiah Joel Peoples, an Iraqi War Veteran suffering from PTSD, intentionally drove his car into a crowd of people he thought to be Muslim in California. Regardless of the complex issue of sentencing in such a case how should the media go about framing such an attack? Should news reports on acts of terror where mental health problems are an obvious key issue differ from political based terror attacks? aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/man-rammed-car-pedestrians-thinking-muslim-190427082620270.html
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Care for those with mental health problems
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Psychological fine line
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Care for those with mental health problems

People with mental health problems are not terrorists, but acts of terror carried out by those with mental health issues are a symptom of non-existent or failing mental health care systems worldwide, occurring in an era of global terrorism. The only solution to these tragic occurrences is to fix or form functional mental health care systems, and in the meantime the media should report the facts around these cases and restrain from speculation in order to minimise sensationalism. An example of this can be seen in the reporting of the Guardian, covering the case of Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, as the facts became clear regarding his mental health issues, the way in which the Guardian reported on the issues changed significantly.

10th Nov 2018: theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/10/melbourne-cbd-terror-attack-a-wake-up-call-australian-police-say 11th Nov 2018: theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/11/hassan-khalif-shire-ali-deluded-and-paranoid-before-bourke-street-attack-friends-say

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Psychological fine line

Arguably under the right coercive circumstances anyone could be pushed to terrorism, and that threshold will be much lower for people with mental health problems. There is no difference between someone that is confused about their political, social or religious agenda and carries out a terror attack and someone that isn’t and attacks people based on rhetoric, dogma or a call to arms, all of these people have some sort of mental health problem. While that shouldn’t diminish their act in any way it should be factored into their punishment, rehabilitation and especially in the following approach to deter things like this from happening again. This should definitely factor into how event such as this are portrayed in the media as there is a delicate balance that can be further strained by pressuring communities and continue to alienate at-risk individuals in those communities.

theconversation.com/the-link-between-terrorism-and-mental-illness-is-complicated-and-vilifying-communities-doesnt-help-106778

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