Mass Murders: Is there a Diet and Mental Health Connection?


The simple definition of a mass murder is when a person(s) is responsible for the deaths of numerous victims in one incident.  We have seen examples of this in recent months, such as the tragic incidents in Colorado, Connecticut, and Oregon.

The big question that is often asked by police, criminologists, psychologists, the public, and others, is how can we prevent, or even predict these types of occurrences from happening?  It is not an easy answer.  In fact, crime and the motivations of those who commit these acts are extremely complex.  There is no mass murder equation or criminal recipe that can be applied to society to predict these types of incidents.

There are some traits and behaviors that are often shared by these types of criminals, but it should not be used as a simple standard.  For example, environmental, chemical, biological, mental illness history, drug and alcohol abuse, experiences, and perceptions are just a few of the factors that become skewed and can motivate someone to kill.  I recently found an interesting proposal about the diet-mental health connection to add to these factors.

Let me totally switch gears here, it will become clearer in a moment.  I receive a monthly newsletter, Health Alert, from Dr. Bruce West, a medical doctor whose primary purpose is to help patients through proper nutrition.  I have been receiving this newsletter for a number of years now.  It has great information about everything from arthritis to heart disease, and much more.

Dr. West helped me with a problem of extreme tiredness that I had been suffering from for quite some time.  I went to numerous doctors and they all said that I work too much and I need to sleep more.  It was aggravating to say the least.  Since I eat well, exercise, take vitamins, and do not have any existing health issues, most doctors dismissed me for being just a pain in their backside.  I felt like they should have blared over the loudspeaker that they have a whiner in the house, and there are other people waiting with real health problems.

So what was the answer for me? Dr. West suggested an organic, non-synthetic iron daily supplement.  It was that easy.  Note: this is not an endorsement for anyone who suffers from tiredness to run out and take iron, you should consult a physician. For me, within three days, after suffering for years from fatigue and tiredness, I felt like my old self again.  Case closed.  Okay, now you are probably wondering – why the heck am I telling you this story?

I received the latest newsletter, March Issue, from Dr. West and one of the topics read: Mass Murders, There Will Be More.  I stopped for a moment and was shocked reading those words in a health newsletter.  You can understand why that would grab my attention. For me, I don’t take everything literally that I read or hear, especially when it comes to crime and criminals, but this article proved an interesting read to say the least.  I had never heard anyone address this issue like this before in the criminal aspect.  It intrigued me.  I tried to find other articles or studies about this topic, but I wasn’t successful.  Maybe more will become known in the upcoming months.

I am giving you a brief overview of the commentary; you can read more from the above link of the original article.  West suggests that there is definitely a diet-mental health connection with mass murder.  Due to the fact many of the incidents are committed by teens and young people, it seems likely that diet could be one of the culprits.  Diets that consist of so-called nonfoods, which are primarily high carbohydrates, sugars, and are highly processed, inhibit the proper balance of the brain and emotional development.  One result is caused by the B-Complex Deficiency Syndrome (BCDS) because of the huge amounts of processed types of foods consumed on a regular basis in young people.  The result, according the Dr. West, affects the brain and can cause a host of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, manic depression, rage, paranoid thinking, and more.

I am not saying that I am completely convinced by this viewpoint, but it is something that indicates more serious study, or at least should be added to the list of the puzzle pieces for crime.  By the way, I am not advocating that eating junk food or fast food make a teen become a violent criminal.  I wanted to share this viewpoint to open discussion and study.  I found the diet-mental health combination an interesting concept to consider.

Should diet/nutrition be added to the list for mass murder and/or criminal activity for further study?

What do you think?


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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8 Responses to Mass Murders: Is there a Diet and Mental Health Connection?

  1. donnagalanti says:

    I absolutely say YES! Combine this environment,and with a teen’s inability to make fully good decisions based on their growing brain – and it sounds like a possible pressure cooker for tragedy.


  2. Barbara Altman says:

    Yes, this is very interesting!!! I am sure this is part of it…..


  3. Consider, then, that school shootings are predictable by the amount of junk food consumed; this still offers no explanation as to why many of these killers feel like outcasts among their peers and are socially under-developed.


    • Trank, thanks so much for stopping by! I wanted to bring to light one of the many things that could possibly contribute. I had not, at least to my knowledge, heard any researcher or criminal psychologist comment about diet and mental health, and violence.


  4. Caleb Pirtle says:

    We haven’t been able to prevent murder since Cain killed Abel. As far as diet is concerned, most criminals I’ve known, and as an old police reporter for a big city newspaper, had a strict diet of cigarettes, whiskey, and drugs.


  5. I teach nutrition therapy at a psychiatric inpatient facility, and definitely believe that diet plays a role in mental health. Eating a whole foods-based diet and avoiding trendy diets and restriction all stave off nutrient deficiencies (which affect everything from moods and concentration abilities to our physical wellbeing) and promote positive overall brain function. I’m not a fan of supplements, unless there is a medical need. (They can cause problems similar to and worse than eating poorly, if taken improperly.) When they are necessary, they can make a hugely positive impact.

    That was my round about way (ha!) of saying, yes. Dietary wellness can influence criminology; it’s not a make/break type of a deal, but it can contribute. Fascinating post!


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