Oscar Pistorius Is A Suicide Risk, According To Psych Report
Oscar Pistorius is depressed, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and at risk of suicide, according to a psychology report read at the athlete’s murder trial on Wednesday. The doctors who spent a month evaluating Pistorius’ mental health also concluded that he does not appear to have a history of abnormal aggression linked to “rage-time murders in intimate relations.”
Pistorius, an Olympic runner, is on trial for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home last year. CNN reports that, while he admits to killing her, he says he mistook her for a burglar and believed he was defending himself.
CNN legal expert Kelly Phelps asserted that the conclusions are a “slam-dunk” for the defense. The prosecution claims that the double amputee sprinter and his girlfriend had a fight and he killed her intentionally. However, the psychiatric report seems to suggest that the athlete’s version of events is possible.
The doctors found in their report, “When Mr. Pistorius’s appraisal of the situation is that he might be physically threatened, a fear response follows that might seem extraordinary when viewed from the perspective of a normal bodied person, but normal in the context of a disabled person with his history.”
The trial against Oscar Pistorius restarted Monday after a month-long break ordered for the mental health exam. Doctors found during that time the Pistorius was not mentally incapacitated when he shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp. Had the doctors deemed the athlete mentally incapacitated during the shooting, the trial would have immediately ended with a verdict of not guilty by reason of mental illness.
ABC News notes that defense lawyer Barry Roux read part of the mental health report during Wednesday’s trial. He stated, “[Pistorius] currently suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder, and a major depressive disorder… The degree of anxiety and depression that is present is significant. He is also mourning the loss of Miss Steenkamp.” The report adds that Pistorius needs “proper clinical care” or “his condition is likely to worsen and increase the risk for suicide.”
Pistorius’ trial is fast approaching its conclusion. Roux called his last witness, the team doctor for the South African Paralympic team. Professor Wayne Derman traveled with the team for the 2012 London Olympic Games. He testified that, for disabled athletes, traveling and touring can lead to several medical challenges.
Testimony could conclude in the trial as early as Wednesday, and Judge Thokozile Masipa will have to decide whether Pistorius genuinely made a mistake or if he killed Reeva Steenkamp intentionally. If Masipa accepts that Oscar Pistorius made a mistake, she could find him guilty of culpable homicide, a lesser charge than murder, or she could acquit him.
[Image by Jim Thurston]