Denmark’s mental health services in spotlight after Copenhagen shooting

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.

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

“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.


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Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

A Danish LGBT+ rights group says that a decision by the country’s health authority to offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men, and have multiple sexual partners, is ‘what we have asked for’.

Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

Denmark will now offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men and have multiple sexual partners, the Danish Health Authority said on Tuesday.

Previously, the shots were only given to people who had been in close contact with a confirmed case.

Anyone can get monkeypox from close contact, not just men who have sex with men. However, high numbers of cases have been recorded in that group, in Denmark as well as internationally.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox: Denmark to offer vaccination to at-risk group

The head of secretariat with association LGBT+ Denmark, Susanne Branner Jespersen, told broadcaster DR the organisation was “pleased” that health authorities have broadened the segment to which vaccinations are offered.

“This is what we have asked for, so we can only be satisfied that they are now coming out with a vaccination strategy which fits with the needs we are seeing,” Jespersen said.

“Being vaccinated does not set aside the general guidelines which have come out, but it will give a higher degree of security,” she said.

The organisation last week called for the Danish Health Authority to offer the monkeypox vaccine to men who have sex with men.

That request has now been met. The vaccine is given as two injections at a 28-day interval.

The health authority is in dialogue with regional health providers and hospitals regarding how the vaccination effort will be coordinated and expects to begin vaccinations by the end of this week, new wire Ritzau reported.

The vice director of the Danish Health Authority, Helene Probst, DR on Tuesday that people in risk groups show be “extra aware” of symptoms, with case numbers currently increasing.

“Vaccination is one part of a strategy with several elements, but it is also important to be aware of symptoms,” Probst told DR.

Typical symptoms of Monkeypox are similar to those most experience with influenza.

Additional symptoms can include a rash in the groin area, itching and discomfort, and blisters in the mouth or on hands. Should these symptoms present, the sufferer should contact their doctor, be tested for monkeypox and avoid close contact with others.

The disease can be passed on to others once symptoms are present.

Latest data from the State Serum Institute (SSI), the national infectious disease agency, show that 126 people in Denmark have contracted monkeypox since the first case was detected in the country in late May.