On my way home from work, I heard the news. Another shooting, unknown numbers dead.
My first thought was a prayer for those whose hearts are breaking tonight, and I think most of you probably responded in a similar way.
Hot on the heels of this rapidly evolving news story was the comment by one politician: “we’ve got to get serious about mental health.” A statement made before anything is known about the shooter’s state of mind, his motive, facts we can seek our teeth into. The assumption was this eighteen-year-old was mentally ill. Maybe. I don’t have the story, and neither did that nitwit congressman.
I’ll agree, we’ve got to get serious about mental health. And here’s where you start: know the facts.
- Mental illness does NOT make you violent.
- The majority of violent crimes are committed by people with NO mental illness. NONE.
- People with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violent crime.
- Drug and alcohol abuse is far more likely to lead to violent crime than the most severe mental illness.
- One of the strongest indicators of potential violent behavior is being a young male with a troubled childhood.
So let’s get serious about child abuse, domestic violence, and drug & alcohol abuse. I’m not saying don’t pour money into caring for the mentally ill. I’m saying, when you do, know what your money can accomplish. A better life for a highly stigmatized population, but probably not a serious reduction in the kinds of horrible events that flood the news.
In the next few days, countless reporters and politicians are going to contribute to the ignorance of the American people by going in front of the camera with trite words and misleading information. Take it upon yourself to dig deep for the truth. Write to those who spread the lies. Post, tweet, and cry out for fairness.
At work, at school, at church, you may be sitting next to someone with mental illness and never know it. They aren’t crazy, and there are a lot of options for those who seek treatment.
So let’s get serious. Let’s tell the truth.
And peace to those who suffer tonight — and all the nights to follow.
Image Credit: © babaroga — stock.adobe.com