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Allen, a trained military veteran who was on a road trip with his three children, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest.

On the video, Allen gets pulled over for speeding and exits his vehicle. He stands still, staring at Zistel. The officer tells him repeatedly to get back in the car, but Allen resists, and eventually pulls a handgun.

Allen was found several miles down the road, dead in his car. Zistel had a bullet wound in his left side. Allen’s three children — ages 10, 13 and 15, were taken into the care of the Department of Human Services. It’s unclear why Allen shot Zistel and put his children’s safety at risk. Investigators may never know what Allen was thinking minutes before the shooting.

And then there was Aaron Alexis.

Alexis, 34, was under the delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency electromagnetic waves before shot 12 people to death at the Washington Navy Yard last month.

Alexis’ mother told his bosses one month before the shootings that he had a history of paranoid episodes and most likely needed therapy.

But nobody took her mother seriously.

“Questions about why Alexis’s behavior wasn’t taken more seriously remain unanswered. However, misdiagnosing mental illness among black men has long been an acute problem — with consequences that extend beyond the Navy Yard killings to the daily gun violence throughout urban America,” Courtland Milloy wrote in The Washington Post.

So what do we take away from these three incidents involving black Americans? Are these incidents flukes or mental health issues that black Americans should take more seriously?

According to a new study by Health Services Research, blacks and Latinos receive less mental health care than whites.

“We found that Blacks and Latinos [remain] in care, including using outpatient services and filling psychotropic drugs, for a shorter time than whites,” said lead study author, Benjamin Le Cook, Ph.D. M.P.H., assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Furthermore, since blacks often wait longer to get help, they are more likely to end up in a psychiatric ER or psychiatric inpatient facility to treat their mental illness.”

What do you think?

ANALYSIS: 3 Blacks, 3 Bizarre Deaths: It’s Time to Stop Stigmatizing Mental Health in the Black Community  was originally published on

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