Albany murder sparks mental health concerns

Dr. Cheryl Kaiser

The alleged murder of Thelma Carter at the hands of her own daughter is sparking concerns about the psychological problems that lead seemingly normal people to commit violent crimes.

According to experts, there is no such thing as a person who just "snaps."

Committing serious crimes is part of a mental pattern and there are usually plenty of warning signs that danger is coming.

"You can kind of look back into someone's history," said Dr. Cheryl Kaiser of Insight Psychotherapy. "You can find all kinds of leading bits of information that let you know that somebody's going down the wrong path."

Kaiser says the indicators for mental illness vary depending on the condition but should be clear.

"We should be looking at information that tells us whether this person is depressed, whether they're having severe anxiety, if this person has significant substance abuse problems," said Kaiser. "If they seem like can't handle any type of stress or they can't handle or manage or cope with their lives."

What may be less obvious is evidence that you're dealing with a different kind of mental disorder â" an individual prone to committing violent acts with complete disregard for others, like a psychopath.

"These are people who do not have any kind of remorse," said Kaiser. "They do not have any kind of ability to feel remorse towards anyone. They do not have any kind of impulse control."

Kaiser stresses that if you do see any of these warning signs, it's crucial that you do not ignore them. The best option is to get the individual to voluntarily agree to some form of mental health counseling.

"There's licensed folks in the Community Health Center, at Phoebe Putney, there are lots of different private practitioners here in the community to help people," said Kaiser.

And if you feel you may be dealing with someone with a predisposition toward violence or other destructive behavior, intervention may mean the difference between life and death.

"That is not something for somebody who is unlicensed in the field," said Kaiser. "That is not something for a friend to handle or a parent or a sibling or a wife or a husband. That is something that needs a licensed professional."

When all else fails and someone appears to be a danger to themselves or others, your best resort is still a call to 9-1-1.