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Don't Scapegoat Me

I don't know about you, but I find mass shootings doubly hard. First, because it's hard to think of all of the lives lost in such an unnecessary and violet way. Second, because there always seem to be a large group of people who automatically blame it on mental illness. Inevitably (if the shooter is white) people will start pointing to a history of signs of mental illness and call the person "mentally disturbed". This makes me feel like shit if I'm being honest.

When people automatically say that mental illness was the cause of a mass shooting, it makes me feel like people expect me to go off at any second. And when it happens enough times, as it does in the United States, I sometimes start to believe that I will. There are millions of people with mental illness or mental health problems who live their entire lives without ever committing a violent act. Yet because a couple of people who may have been experiencing mental health problems decide to use mass violence as an outlet, the rest of us become a threat to society.

I'm not saying that mental illness and mental health problems don't ever have anything to do with it, because sometimes it honestly does. But often times the violence stems from a lack of mental health resources and the person not being able to get the help they need. I know someone who lives with schizophrenia who, after years of not being able to get the help that they needed, committed an act of violence during an episode of psychosis. They have since been able to receive the proper treatment, live a healthy life, and are one of the kindest people I have met.

However, when we automatically associate mass violence with mental illness we are only working to further stigmatize mental illness. Even in my darkest moments of depression, I have never wanted to cause any outward violence. Yet I worry that if these conversations continue, people are going to think that I am a threat to their safety not matter how much my illnesses are affecting me.

Mental illness is only one factor in the problem that is acts of mass violence, and we need to treat it as such instead of blaming the entire problem on this issue. Because I right now I feel like I'm being thrown under the bus by those who have not experienced mental health problems so that they can avoid tackling the real issues.

 

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