Let’s erase the stigma of mental illness

In the aftermath of the mass killings and injuries in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio this past weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role people with mental illness play in such events. Mental illness runs in my family. My son suffered with bipolar disorder and as a result killed himself almost twenty years ago. But none of the mentally ill people I know (or knew) are violent. My son was a gentle person – so were  my relatives – unless you characterize suicide as a violent act. I don’t. I agree with his doctor who said my son had to release the pain he was in and that’s why he took his own life.

I’m also on the side of a study done in 2017 by MentalHealth.gov. They say:

“It is a myth that people with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.”

The Fact Is: “The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.”

So I don’t want to name any names right now. But I don’t agree with those who say “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun” and calling mass shooters “mentally ill monsters.” These are NRA talking points.

Instead of characterizing mental illness as a horrible untreatable disease that incites violence, let’s work harder to erase its stigma.

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And let’s band together to find out why twenty-nine people were killed in less than twenty-four hours this past Saturday and Sunday and find a way to never let such massacres happen again. These people and their survivors (and we are all their survivors) are in my heart.

Comments

  1. Caught this on my Twitter feed – you are absolutely right! The blame pointed at people suffering with mental illness is only to distract from the true issue and to further stigmatize mental illness.

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