On Friday morning, a Texas teenager, 19 year old McCann Utu Jr., stabbed himself to death after exacting the same end upon his mother and 17-year-old brother. According to the brother of the deceased woman, however, the boy responsible for the deaths was not necessarily a criminal. Rather, he was suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, which he had sustained while playing basketball at his high school “more than a year ago.”
Reports were not clear as to whether or not the boy was receiving long term care for the effects of his injury. From what is reported, however, it is likely that he was not. Further, no matter what treatment he did or did not receive, it is reported by medical professionals that there is a high likelihood of the injury leading to the fatal actions by the boy last week.
Over 1 in 4 sufferers from a prior TBI in a 2009 study were found to practice aggressive behaviors in the aftermath of their injury. Furthermore, there was a high correlation in the development of depression and the beginning of aggressive behaviors.
Peers of Utu’s told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the boy did indeed seem to develop depression after his injury, with one longtime friend, Waseem Limbada, saying, “I felt like he was depressed emotionally.” The lack of certainty in Limbada’s statement suggests that the Utu did not receive treatment of any kind for his symptoms, with no such mention of anything like that from the boy’s father, who was not home during the murders.
Depression after TBI can lead to decreased impulse control ability because of a lack of reasoned thinking, such as that which evidently led to the stabbings. Over half of TBI victims are reported to suffer from depression within one year following their injury.
Utu reverted to his reason after it was already too late, showing the conflict that points to TBI induced major depression. He was the one to call police on himself, as he was dying and after his family members had already perished.
The lack of care for the boy’s health problems is obscenely common. According to Mental Health America, in the state of Texas, 67.3% of youth suffering from major depression received no treatment at all in 2012-2013. The national average is a deficit of care among 64.1% of diagnosably depressed youth.
US Representative Tim Murphy, R-Pa., stated of the problem: “We have replaced the hospital bed with the jail cell, the homeless shelter and the coffin.” Indeed, in innumerable cases there is no productive option given to the mentally ill to address their issues. In Texas, over 1 in 10 youth had little to no access whatsoever to mental health treatment. A single payer healthcare system, or any other form of deprivatization of healthcare, would accomplish the integration of healthcare into Americans’ lives so that sad events like this do not happen again.
Featured Image is a Screenshot from the Video.