Commentary: Stigmas of Mental Illness

written by Tomi Clark

A school. A trigger of a gun. And the person behind the bullet.

With mass shootings, the assumptions that are frequently associated with those who stand behind the trigger are typical:

  1. Mental illness causes gun violence
  2. The crime can be prevented with psychiatric diagnosis
  3. The shooter is troubled, deranged and lonely

What is at the forefront of your mind when somebody mentions ‘school shooter’? Is it that the shooter is mentally disturbed and that is what drove them to burst?

Links between gun violence and mental illness have been the center of misconceptions, but labeling it as a misconception is only based on what you believe.

Abstractly, not only does mental stability come to mind when speaking of school shooters, but it brings to light other stereotypes and anxieties associated with gun violence.

More importantly, though, it brings up the ultimate question: Where is safe?

The stigmas of mental illness

The stigmas surrounding school shooters are only implications.

Do you picture someone who harbors telltale signs of loneliness, failing grades, a secret

vendetta, a broken family, and a history of mental illness?

From what is broadcast on the news, people tend to develop bias prejudices toward the mentally ill, and profile them as mass murderers. Thus, they make generalizations on the spectrum of the argument at hand.

The presumption that all mentally ill have a burning passion to shoot up schools just because of their mental state is only an implication. What did the mentally ill do to incur the wrath of harsh judgment and cruel discriminations?

Frankly, anyone can be an anomaly who commits the crime.

The assumptions that link gun violence and mental illness stem from some place, but where? Any correlation between the mental illness and gun violence is a fallacy, because not everyone who is mentally ill is going to conduct a shooting.

Anyone, not only those labeled as “sick”, has the capability to gain access to a weapon (whether by legal or illegal means), walk onto a school campus, and begin shooting at random. But the stigmas perpetuate the direction that all mentally ill are belligerent, and are simply waiting in the shadows, ready to strike.

Mass shootings are a conundrum, and all society aspires to do is understand, and know how to prevent them. The first group of people in line to blame are those who have mental health issues, even if they do not act or show signs of erratic behavior.

The notions that proclaim mental illness as being the sole reason for any mass shooting, or that advanced physiatric surveillance could prevent a shooting, is unsensible because denouncing a substantial amount of the population on a topic as grand terror scale as this is unfair. And while the shooter may have personal turmoil or mental instability, throwing blame on an entire group of people is where the line is drawn.

No school is infallible and grand scale shootings are inevitable, but discriminating and associating murder mentality with all mentally ill is unjustifiable.

This is an extensive and imperative topic at hand, and in the end it’s in your hands to decide what you deem the reasons for mass shootings are.

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