Denmark's mental health services in spotlight after Copenhagen shooting

Author thumbnail
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Denmark's mental health services in spotlight after Copenhagen shooting
A woman lays flowers next to the Field's shopping centre, where Sunday's shooting occurred. Photo: Annegret Hilse/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Two days after the shootings in Copenhagen, questions have been asked around the quality of mental health care in Denmark after police confirmed that the suspected gunman was known to psychiatric services.


“The tragedy in Field’s calls us to debate not terrorism threats or immigration, but rather a conversation about whether we in the psychiatric system had a good enough grip on the suspected perpetrator," Berlingske's Pierre Collignon wrote in the newspaper's Tuesday editorial.

A 22-year-old man was charged with three murders and seven attempted murders in relation to the Field's shooting at a brief closed-doors court hearing on Monday and was remanded into psychiatric care for at least 24 days.


Police said the shooter, who was carrying a rifle and knife, was known to mental health services, and that he had acted alone as they ruled out terrorism on Monday. 

“Our suspect is also known among psychiatric services, beyond that I do not wish to comment," Copenhagen chief police inspector Soren Thomassen said.

According to public broadcaster DR, the man had failed to get through to a support helpline shortly before the attack, but authorities would not confirm this.

The day before the shootings, the suspect published videos on social media, which police have said are authentic. In them he posed with weapons, which he did not have a permit for and he talked about psychiatric medication “that does not work”. 

Mads Kastrup from Ekstra Bladet questioned why an alarm was not triggered in the system when it was known that the suspected gunman had mental health problems and according to Ekstra Bladet, still had access to weapons through his shooting association.

JydskeVestkysten's editor-in-chief Peter Orry said that the Social Democrats had promised a ten-year plan to improve psychiatry services in Denmark.  

"The National Board of Health and Welfare and the Danish health authority came up with a proposal for the plan in January, but nothing has happened. There will be justified criticism if it turns out that the suspect has not received the help and treatment that might have prevented the tragedy", he said.




Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also