On Saugus: Voices From the Community Part 3

In the wake of a mass shooting, many people reach the same conclusion: The perpetrator must have been mentally ill. While the idea that mental illness causes gun violence pervades news reports and everyday conversations, it has no basis in reality.

In the wake of a mass shooting, many people reach the same conclusion: The perpetrator must have been mentally ill. While the idea that mental illness causes gun violence pervades news reports and everyday conversations, it has no basis in reality. 

Most individuals living with mental illness, including serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Indeed, only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to serious mental illness, and people with serious mental illnesses are far more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators. 

Along with being inaccurate, the notion that mental illness causes gun violence heightens stigma and hinders people’s lives. To avoid appearing dangerous, a person with mental illness may refuse to seek treatment or even neglect to tell family and friends when they’re struggling. Misinformation regarding mental health and gun violence also makes the general population less willing to interact with mentally ill people or to support social and community services designed to help them. 

Without societal support, people with mental health conditions face a greater risk of poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse, all of which make a person more susceptible to assault. In other words, by spreading the lie that mental illness leads to gun violence, we further endanger a population that is already over ten times more likely to endure violent attacks than the general public.  

After an act of senseless violence shakes our nation, or even our hometown, it’s only natural to ask, “why?” However, when we let myths about mental illness and gun violence go unchallenged, we’re doing a great disservice to an important sector of our community. The next time you hear that “The perpetrator must have been mentally ill,” don’t ignore it. Instead, treat it as an opportunity to start a conversation about stigma and to brainstorm ways we can fight gun violence without harming multifaceted community members who have so much to offer. 

 

Showing 1 reaction

 .

NAMI San Fernando Valley

HelpLine: (818) 994-6747
email: info@namisanfernandovalley.org

Physical Address: 20151 Nordhoff Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311

 

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.

Created with NationBuilder