What will it take?

After the events in Washington DC yesterday, I have to ask, ‘What will it take, America?’ How many mass killings is it going to take for us to wake up and really discussing the problem here. It’s not guns. It’s mental health and the social stigma attached to it.

For those uneducated few:

Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of (or discontent with) a person or group on socially characteristic grounds that are perceived, and serve to distinguish them, from other members of a society. Stigma may then be affixed to such a person, by the greater society, who differs from their cultural norms.

Social stigma can result from the perception (rightly or wrongly) of mental illness, physical disabilities, diseases such as leprosy (see leprosy stigma), illegitimacy, sexual orientation, gender identity, skin tone, education, nationality, ethnicity, ideology, religion (or lack of religion) or criminality. Attributes associated with social stigma often vary depending on the geopolitical and corresponding sociopolitical contexts employed by society, in different parts of the world.

We need to overcome the social stigma of mental health (really we need to overcome all social stigmas), but mental health is something that hasn’t been addressed in a very long time. I have previously addressed my own personal feelings about gun control and I do not believe that this is an issue about guns, no matter how I feel about guns themselves.

The guy in DC yesterday had an established history of mental health issues and, more importantly, anger management issues involving guns. That’s obviously something that should’ve been more adequately addressed before yesterday happened.

Adam Lanza, who shot teachers and children alike in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012,  was reported to have had  some form of autism for which there is no evidence that his mother did anything to address it, other than removing him from both public and private school in order to homeschool him. He was also not known to have any friends.

Though it remains debatable – at least until the report scheduled to be released yesterday is made public – James Holmes was allegedly having a psychotic episode when he snuck out of the movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado and returned with guns and started shooting movie goers. I am no psychiatrist, but his actions seem a little too well-planned to me to be a psychotic episode. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and an experienced psychiatrist will stumble across this post and explain how Holmes’ actions can be viewed as a psychotic episode.

Time after time, the result is the same:

  • there is a mass shooting
  • killer dies
  • public and family of perpetrator discover that the killer had some mental health problems (if you notice, the family never saw it coming in any of these cases)
  • there’s a renewed call on gun control

Considering that none of this ever changes anything, I can’t help but wonder why no one stops to question anything else. Why aren’t we addressing mental health?

Let’s do this now. Stop the killings now.


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