In other desperate attempts to place blame anywhere but the easy access to machine guns, the second post in this series on gun control in America looks at the most annoying and possibly most offensive argument that has sprung up recently.
That the mass shootings are a mental health issue not a gun control issue.
I'm sorry, what?
I have Generalised Anxiety, with Panic Attacks; my mum Schizophrenia, my brother and dad have both had Depression and panic-attacks, one uncle has Bi-Polar, his ex-wife Schizophrenia (they met in hospital, that was always going to go so well wasn't it), their son - well let's just say fucked up. An aunt also has Anxiety, on the other side of my family, my aunts sister has Bipolar, my cousin Anxiety. Two high school friends were later diagnosed with Bipolar, one's sister and mum were too. Another school friend had a mum with Bipolar and Schizophrenia. A dancing friend had the worst case of ADHD i'd ever seen until I went to camp, where 2 of my campers also had really bad ADHD. I had uni friends who had battled eating disorders and yet another one with Bipolar in the family. I had a boss who's sister has Schizophrenia. My mum served on the hospital's Consumers and Carers Advisory Group for 3 years and worked as a patient liaison in the hospital.
I have been surrounded by people with mental health issues my whole life. Not a single one of them, or any of the people they know with mental health issues has gone shooting a bunch of innocent people! Other countries have mentally ill people, they are not taking guns to cinemas.
Seriously, are you that desperate for something to blame?! Not even street-drugs anymore, we've moved on from blaming illegal drugs to blaming prescription drugs.
Never mind that only a few years ago everyone was saying that If Adam Lanza had been on medication for his "undiagnosed Schizophrenia" that he would never have shot anyone. Nope, now these shooters are shooting people because of the medications.
Is over-prescription and a lack of understanding of the side-effects of psychotropic drugs a problem?
I'm in support groups for the meds I take - it is quite clear that the meds can do some pretty fucked up things to people, and cause you problems for a hell of a long time after you are off them. It is real, it is a problem, one the pharmaceutical companies will deny it with their last breath.
There are people in the groups I am on who have been perscribed 3,5,7 different medications, in increasingly large dosages and dangerous combinations, by doctors who seem to think they are jelly beans. There are people who have been prescribed them for ridiculous things like back pain, menopause, period pain, migraines, death in the family, divorce, job loss and fibromyalgia - these things do not need psychiatric drugs.
The prescription of psychiatric drugs to children is out of control, including toddlers and babies under a year old!!!!!
These issues are real problem, but blaming the psych meds for mass shootings is not helping those issues. Why, because everyone just assumes you are looking for any conspiracy theory you can find that helps shift blame from guns. Everyone just assumes you are talking cranked conspiracies. So unless you are crying foul about the overprescription and lack of informed consent regarding psych meds all year round, not just when you want to take the heat of talks of gun regulation - STFU.
Is the lack of services and intervention for mental health patients a problem?
Yes, it's a problem even in countries with free healthcare, so I can only imagine the cluster-fuck it is in America where your ability to access your medication can be cut off at any time. The American's in the support groups are always writing about how their insurance has denied their medication, or will only cover them at half the dose they have been on, or they lost their job so now they have no insurance and therefore no medication.
That is insane. And frankly, inhumane. It's the sort of crap that you expect from fascist countries.
But this affects every person in America who has any illness or health issue, including pregnancy which is technically neither. So unless you are calling for free universal health care every day of the year, STFU
Is there a lot of poverty and crime and generally disaffected youth in America
Yes. But you know what, there is poverty and crime and disaffected youth in Australia, and Canada and the UK and Europe, and those kids are not going around shooting their classmates.
Also you know what would seriously cut the amount of poverty, crime and disaffected youth?? A mandatory minimum wage and unemployment benefits! Would they completely eliminate these issues, no but they would cause a serious improvement, including in the rates of depression, anxiety or chronic stress. So unless you are advocating for minimum living wages and unemployment benefits, STFU
So for god's sake can we please just stop with this "it's mental illness" crap and the even more ridiculous "it's the anti-depressants" - Because it's not. As much as I am sure that there are a lot of people who wish it were so that there would be a "legitimate" reason to seriously investigate the reality of their effects, it's just a convenient correlation, and a distraction.
"Fewer than 5 percent of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness" Dr. Jeffrey Swanson
people who are violent, are not by definition mentally ill. People who are mentally ill are not by definition violent. Violent people kill others, individually and en masse, but thousands of them do so every day, without meeting any other criteria for mental illness.
“If someone has a history of any kind of violent or assaultive behavior, that's actually a better predictor of future violence than having a mental health diagnosis,” Jeffrey Swanson - Duke University
and so this game of blaming the mentally ill gets seen for what it is - a blame game.
It is the same "blame the other" approach that people use to justify islamophobia - or racism
It is the same "real/good people don't do that" trope we use to defend and minimize sexisim and racisim, and increase the victim blaming of rape and DV victims.
it is the same "only a monster" would do something like that approach that stops kids from reporting sexual assault, and allows pedophiles to try and claim that they are not responsible for their actions.
And funnily enough, it is only ever brought up when the killer or the violent offender is white, because well when they are black they are already "other" aren't they. So there's no need to create a bogus psychiatric diagnosis or insist it must be because of medication, because, everyone knows that black people are just more violent. (Even the NRA said so in the 60's.) Muslims are just more violent and hate Americans. White people are never violent......unless they are mentally ill or on drugs.
You know, cause history clearly never happened.
"The reason a certain kind of person loves talking about “mental illness” is to draw attention to the big bold scary exceptional crimes and treat them as exceptions. It’s to distract from the fact that the worst crimes in history were committed by people just doing their jobs–cops enforcing the law, soldiers following orders, bureaucrats signing paperwork." Arthur Chu (read the whole article, it is great, I could easily have just quoted the whole thing)
Hitler was sane so were all his henchmen.
So were Columbus, and Cook, and their mass murdering underlings, shepherding indigenous people together only to set fire to them or slaughter them all.
So was the South African government, Stalin and Vasili Blokhin.
The cops who are attacking black kids left and right in America - sane.
The American soldiers who murdered civilians in Vietnam - sane.
"Sane" people are doing these things.
now you can argue that we need a new definition, I fully support that, I've been saying for years that there are two types of "crazy" people - those with mental health illnesses and those who are sociopaths or just plain ass-hats who kill people because they can't handle not being in control, or not having what they want.
But don't feed the insanity trope- there's a reason it is so often pursued in court, and that reason is not because the perpetrator is mentally ill - it's because it gets them a lighter sentence.
Hi I'm Nicole