Hello. My name is S—–. I’m 18 years old and for a few years now, I have been slightly depressed and had acute social anxiety. I used self harm as a coping device but I have been clean from that for a while. Now, I find myself almost obsessing over serial killers and murder. I’ve thought (in depth) about killing people. Not just shooting someone, but kidnaping and brutally torturing and murdering them. And if they die before I’m done experimenting I see taking another. I’ve thought about becoming the most infamous female killer. It almost feels like an aspiration. I’m not scared of these thoughts, but I’d feel ashamed if anyone were to look through my browser history and see that I watch The Jeffery Dahmer Files and Faces of Death. I always look up authentic murder photos and videos. It subdues the urges. I know this isn’t normal but I am. At least on the outside. I go to a local college and have lots of friends. I don’t know what to do. I’m ashamed to tell my parents. What should I do? Thank you in advanced.

A. People might consider engaging in acts of violence when they feel powerless. It might also stem from one’s own deep psychological suffering. A Swedish-based study of 47,000 people recently found that individuals who were clinically depressed engaged in acts of violence at a higher rate than people with no history of depression. Perhaps some people engage in acts of violence as a way to express their strong emotions.

The authors of the aforementioned Swedish study also reported that depressed participants were relieved to talk about how they felt and to discover that their depression was treatable.

I would recommend that you address starting counseling. Depression and anxiety are very treatable mental health disorders. If you were to undergo counseling, you may not feel attracted to violence.

You should also consider entering counseling because it is the most responsible course of action. You admittedly are considering engaging in illegal and immoral behavior. The practical reality is that if you were to kill someone, it is very likely that you would be caught, sentenced to life in prison or be executed. The majority of states still impose the death penalty in murder cases.

You must do what is necessary to prevent yourself from engaging in acts of destruction. Counseling could help you understand and control your strong urges and develop more effective coping skills. I hope you will consider it. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle