Whether it is intra-family homicides or mass killings, as recently in Amqui and Laval, exposure to violence can lead to contagion effects, explain experts. More could be done to prevent homicides, some say.
The triple murder that allegedly took place Friday in Rosemont1 represents a new episode of violence for a Quebec already turned upside down by the tragedy in Amqui at the start of the week, and in Laval at the end of February.
Other possibly intra-family crimes have also forever changed the lives of different families in the metropolis since the beginning of 2023, when young people allegedly attacked their parents, often stabbing them to death.
“These intra-family killings, we have always had them, recalls Dr. Cécile Rousseau, pediatric psychiatrist at McGill University. When we are really in distress, the people we are most likely to lash out at are our loved ones: our family members – spouse, children and, in the case of young people, parents. »
But whether for mass killings or attacks on relatives, exposure to violence can lead to a contagion effect. “When I don’t feel well, in distress, seeing others act [with violence] in this way, it can have a model or accelerating effect”, summarizes Dr. Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, psychologist and professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal.
“It’s been documented for a long time in terms of suicides,” adds Pierre-Paul Malenfant, president of the Order of Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists of Quebec. And it’s also documented in terms of acts of violence,” he adds.
“The media influence, social networks, it has a lot of weight in a person who is not well”, abounds Josée Rioux, president of the Professional Order of Criminologists of Quebec.
According to Dr. Rousseau, one solution would be to offer more support to people who present homicidal risks (who say they want to kill others or who are at risk of doing so).
However, young people today are more likely to act out violence against others, compared to those of previous decades, she observes. “These days, what we are seeing is the increase in heteroaggressive gestures [aggressive towards others], which are also gestures of despair”, underlines the child psychiatrist.
“The suffering, the rage that is there, in certain individuals, can either be expressed towards the other in a homicidal way, or towards oneself as a suicidal risk, adds Dr. Beaulieu-Pelletier. But in the homicidal affects, there are many taboos, a misunderstanding at the social level, she analyzes. Yes, there is a social reflection to be had there. »
Obviously, having a mental health problem does not mean that a person will be violent, assure the various experts. “In acts of mass violence, only 22% of the situations were people with mental health problems,” said Mr. Malenfant. But that does not mean that these people are not in psychological distress. »
But when there are risks of violence, you also have to know how to prevent them, says Dr. Beaulieu-Pelletier.
“And for that, yes, we have to increase access to care and services, but also go and reach those who really need it and who will not necessarily come to consult. »
Around 3 p.m., a 38-year-old man named Steve Gagnon mowed down eleven pedestrians on the edge of Saint-Benoît Boulevard West while driving his van. Two of his victims died while nine others were injured, three seriously. On Tuesday, the Crown filed dangerous driving charges against him. Prime Minister François Legault, who then went to the scene of the tragedy on Thursday, promised to invest more in mental health in the next budget, scheduled for next week.
A Société de transport de Laval (STL) bus driver, Pierre-Ny St-Amand, killed two people and injured six when he crashed into a Laval daycare center with his bus. The 51-year-old, with no criminal history, was later charged with two first-degree murders, attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault. In an interview with La Presse, the mayor of Laval, Stéphane Boyer, also felt that the event illustrates once again that municipalities must do more to fight against mental health problems.
The lifeless body of a 54-year-old woman was found in a Parc-Extension apartment, shortly after the police intervened in another apartment in the same building, where a 23-year-old man had been injured at the top. from the body. A 26-year-old woman was later arrested at the scene. It was the second homicide to occur in Montreal in 2023.
Emmanuel Gendron-Tardif, a 28-year-old filmmaker, was arrested by authorities after he allegedly stabbed his mother Lysane Gendron on the second floor of a building on Fullum Street in the Ville-Marie borough. It was the first murder in Montreal this year. According to our information, the suspect was in crisis at the time of the events. He reportedly suffers from mental health issues.
Quebec Suicide Prevention Line: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553)