“For the small group of people with mental illness who are at risk of committing gun violence, improved collaborations with the criminal justice system are clearly indicated,” the researchers stated. “However, directly targeting mental illness as the major driver of gun violence is misguided. … Prior violence, substance use, and early trauma are more likely to contribute to subsequent violence than is mental illness per se. In this regard, the politically inspired haste to focus gun control efforts on people being treated for a mental illness, rather than on people with demonstrated indicators of violence risk, such as restraining orders related to domestic violence, seems particularly misdirected.”
This contradicts the latest psychophobic reign of error that comes upon the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. It isn’t the mentally ill who shoot people, but those who have no psychiatric diagnosis. So what are we going to do about them?
As I write this, I can only begin to imagine the number of people who have jumped to the conclusion that the shooter at the Charleston AME Church was mentally ill. By this time tomorrow, even if the shooter has not been caught, we will hear the pundits debating what kind of disability afflicted the shooter. Undoubtedly there will be more calls for Forced Outpatient Treatment.
There are a few things to keep in mind before we turn Charleston into our reason-to-support-Murphy’s-Law-of-the-day:
We have no idea who the shooter is at this point, except that he is white and in his twenties or thirties.
South Carolina has “Assisted” Outpatient Treatment. So even if he was mentally ill, the much ballyhooed program sure as hell didn’t prevent anything here.
The man had a gun that let him kill a lot of people including a state senator.
White supremacist activity has been on the rise.
Rest assured that the NRA — which backs the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act — will blame this on mental illness at the earliest possible press conference. We’re the scapegoat for this kind of thing every time it happens.
I have never attempted suicide myself, but an uncle of mine did once, and well, paid the ultimate price, his life. He was unofficially diagnosed by my mother and her sisters as Bipolar, whether or not that was true, we will never know. What I do know for sure is that he was pushed to a point where he no longer found meaning in his life. I also know that I have felt such despair that I wish someone would take my babies and just let me sleep. I have felt so depressed and in the midst of nothingness that all I wanted to do was lay in my bed and do and be nothing. Just nothing. This would usually come after a late night, a restless, sleepless night. Or, when I “forgot” to take my medication because I know better than the psychiatrist. Wrong!! So wrong!!
I now know that I don’t know more than any psychiatrist no matter how flawed I may think they are or how much higher my IQ may be, I am at the mercy of their education and experience. I put it so dramatically because that is how I sometimes feel. I feel as though I am helpless sometimes and not only at the mercy of the psychiatrists, but at the mercy of my mind. Why? Because it leads me to think things, things I should not be thinking. Like, “don’t take your meds, you’re fine”, “your mood swings are totally typical”, and my favorite, “you are not Bipolar, everyone else is.”
I also know that everyone’s life has meaning, no matter what you or others may think. And sometimes it’s hard to see through all the mugginess and fog, but believe me, your life has meaning. Whatever it may be, make it your mission to find it. Make that your daily goal! I dare you.