Dexter, Child Murderers, and Mental Health.

Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead.

What makes a murderer? What makes a child murderer? Are some of us born “evil” or shaped into monsters?

The popular Netflix series “Dexter” revolves around a serial killer who kills other adult murderers. When Dexter was three, his mother and three others were murdered by a chainsaw in a shipping yard, leaving Dexter and his older brother alone and surrounded by blood. During the day, Dexter works as a forensic blood spatter analyst for the Miami-Metro Police Department. His older brother grew up to be “The Ice Truck Killer”, a famous murderer who kills innocent people by draining their blood and chopping them into pieces. Blood shaped their future, but their morals were different. Dexter got help and affection after the horrendous event, but the brother was treated as unfixable.

Were there things that could have been done to prevent these boy’s shared career?

Yes, this is fiction, but in real life bad things do happen to children that can leave physical, emotional, and mental scars. Past events could be a reason why people become killers, but it could also be the mental illnesses anyone at any time can experience. Yes, a bad history can lead to mental illness, but there are other factors too.

Many psychiatrists believe serial killers have one or many mental illnesses. The mental illnesses vary, but common ones include: Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Schizophrenia, and Depression. The causes of any mental disorders are a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. A mental illness can generate in anyone, and it’s important to raise awareness. I am not saying murderers should not be held responsible because of a mental illness, I am saying we need to look out for each other and try to get people the help they need before they make a bad decision. The subject of mental illness is hard, it can be scary, and it’s okay to feel that way. The more information we gather and the more stories we share will only help the world.

Craig Price was only thirteen years old when he committed his first murder. On July 27, 1989, Price walked two doors down to rob his neighbor, Rebecca Spencer. When Rebecca found him, he stabbed her 58 times. Two years later Price went to another neighbor’s house, Joan Heaton, and proceeded to stab her 57 times. When Joan’s children heard the screams, they went downstairs to check out the commotion. Price then stabbed Jennifer Heaton, age ten, 67 times. Melissa Heaton, age eight, suffered from a crushed skull due to being hit over the head with a kitchen stool, and multiple stab wounds. During Craig Price’s emotionless confession, his mother was horrified, and his father had to leave the room to throw up.

This aggression was not created by family abuse, and the real cause will remain unknown until Price, after two decades, agrees to take a psychiatric evaluation. With a continuing history of offenses, starting before Price’s first kill until present day, is it possible Price could have been saved? If there were more affordable mental health resources available, would Price’s parents have done something about their son’s aggression?

How about the Columbine High School Massacre? One shooter, Dylan Klebold, had a happy, loving mother, who now spends her life advocating for mental health awareness. Klebold is now analyzed by psychologists and psychiatrists as depressed, while Eric Harris is seen as a psychopath. Many people don’t realize that this could be your brother, your daughter, your parents that are struggling. Let’s make talking about mental illness normal. Let’s make being kind and attentive to others normal, instead of letting kids be bullied and labeled as outcasts.

We are doing better. The world IS doing better. Equality has made strides and stereotypes are getting lost in the wind. Further mental health awareness from children to the elderly is the next big step. I don’t believe any person WANTS to kill another. I believe something is wrong and people need more help and love. The birds and the bees talk? Why isn’t there a mental health talk? Yes there’s the,“if you ever need anything come see me”, but where is sitting down and explaining what depression is? If your child felt the urge to punch someone at school today, why are they being punished instead of understood and helped? No, not every single sign that something’s not normal means there’s something funky inside your head. No, I don’t want a bunch of medicine being prescribed, or hundreds of dollars spent on therapy for one incident. I want people to pay more attention, and before assuming the worst of others, or that they’re weird, assume they need a friend. If they don’t want you to help? A simple act of kindness can go a long way.

We are all human. Mental illness is real.

Dexter Morgan wanted to change.

No topic that can save lives, should ever be seen as crazy.

-Claire Cook