From a young woman in the U.S.: I have been concerned about my recent homicidal thoughts. They are always following learning or hearing about abusive, cruel, or just evil people. Particularly parents abusing their children. I just feel that if they could die peacefully, it would be best for their victims.
I don’t necessarily want to do it myself, but I no one else will and I’d be serving the public. Or at least that’s how it feels at times. These are people no one would miss much. I would never actually kill someone, but sometimes the thoughts make sense and that’s what concerns me. They aren’t angry thoughts, just protective ones and very calm. I’m not a danger to anyone, and everything is going amazing in my life and it has no correlation to any activity, or lifestyle changes.
There’s never anything that leads to the thoughts except hearing of someone needing protection. I suppose I want to know how common these thoughts are and how concerned I should be for having them.
Homicidal thoughts like you describe are more common than most people know. Notice that I qualified that statement with “like you describe.” You did a good job analyzing the reason you have such thoughts. You are a compassionate person who can’t stand the idea that there are people who get away with hurting others, especially children. But you feel helpless to change the situation. Your mind therefore drifts to killing off the abusers as a way to feel more in control. It gives you some momentary satisfaction to think you can right the wrongs by making the wrong-doers disappear. The fact that you know you won’t do it tells me that you are not in danger of acting on those impulses.
Most people have fleeting thoughts of murder, but there are people whose thoughts turn into action. (You are not likely one of them.) Such people are generally angry at the world and don’t trust other people. Because they project their feelings of aggression on others, it takes little for them to fly into a rage. Usually these behaviors start early in childhood and progressively get worse. To them, violence, even murder, can be rationalized.
One study delved into the backgrounds of criminal offenders to determine how many had a history of serious homicidal thinking. Only 12% did. But those in that 12% were arrested earlier, committed more crimes, and were responsible for the majority of reported violent offenses.
As Mr. Rogers, famed children’s television host, is quoted as saying: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
The antidote to homicidal thinking by a normal person like yourself is to become one of those helpers. You can channel your distress and feelings of helplessness by becoming actively involved in an organization that is trying to protect those who need it. There are many non-profit organizations that need help. Volunteering even a few hours a week will help you direct your anger in a constructive direction. Some people like you even make a profession of it by training for jobs in social justice or child welfare.
I wish you well.