Two recent violent crimes in Dane County create concern over men - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Two recent violent crimes in Dane County create concern over mental illness

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Madison (WKOW)-- Mental illness has become a major topic of discussion in our area after two violent incidents in Dane County where people with mental health problems attacked residents and officers in the community.

The two violent crimes happened within 24 hours of each other. On Thursday, a Primrose man diagnosed with schizophrenia violently attacked two family members and stabbed two Dane County deputies before being shot and killed by another deputy. One day later, a Madison man with undisclosed mental health problems stabbed and killed two of his neighbors. He also injured another neighbor before he was shot and killed by Madison Police.

"We continue to have events unfold in our community with individuals suffering from mental illness. I think that we as a county moving forward, how we deal with these incidents will define us as a county," Sheriff Dave Mahoney says.

Both cases are creating a lot of fear in surrounding communities. This increased fear is very concerning to mental health advocates in Dane County.

"That is certainly a fear that people carry around. When those kinds of discussions are happening, it really does make people think twice about getting treatment. They're concerned about what the people around them will think. That's a big part of our concern," Shel Gross of Mental Health America of Wisconsin says.

Gross is discouraged by the misconception that all people with mental illness are violent. He says a majority of people are able to effectively manage their illness to the point where the average person wouldn't even know they had one.

"These two cases are certainly on the extreme side of things. They are both tragic and my heart goes out to everyone involved, but they are extremely rare," Gross says.

Many law enforcement agencies already provide their officers with mental health training. However, Gross believes that more is needed. He also says communities need to make treatment more readily available. This year the Wisconsin state legislature passed a bill that gives counties more opportunities to obtain state funding for mental health related initiatives.

"It's a great opportunity for the county to be able to have some revenue come in to support some new services. Whether that would've helped these individuals or not I don't know, but it's trying to get as many pieces into place as possible," Gross says.

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Madison (WKOW)-- Mental illness has become a major topic of discussion in our area after two violent incidents in Dane County where people with mental health problems attacked residents and officers in the community.

On Thursday, a Primrose man diagnosed with schizophrenia violently attacked two family members and stabbed two Dane County deputies before he was shot in the shoulder. Less than 24 hours later, a Madison man with undisclosed mental health problems stabbed two of his neighbors and injured another before he was killed by Madison Police.

Mental health advocates in Dane County are concerned about the affect these two incidents will have on the public's perception of mental illness. Mental Health America of Wisconsin's Director of Public Policy Shel Gross says extreme cases like these often create a lot of fear in the community. They tend to make people forget that a vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not prone to violence.

"That is certainly a fear that people carry around and so when those kinds of discussions are happening it really does make people think twice about getting treatment. That is a big part of our concern," Gross says.

Coming up on 27 News at 5:30 and 10:00 p.m. we'll hear from mental health advocates and Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney regarding this ongoing issue of mental illness.




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