But what does "Mentally Ill" mean anyway. We use the term as an umbrella. Someone with depression may be classified as mentally ill. Someone with bi-polar, which is a physiological issue by the way, is classified as mentally ill. So again...what is Mental illness? NAMI, the WebMD of Mental Health, describes Mentally Illness as:
Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.
Mental illness is common. In a given year:
Mental illness is treatable. The vast majority of individuals with mental illness continue to function in their daily lives.
- nearly one in five (19 percent) U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness
- one in 24 (4.1 percent) has a serious mental illness
- one in 12 (8.5 percent) has a substance use disorder*
do they all lose the right to purchase a weapon?
who gets to decide if someone is mentally ill "enough" to lose that right?
that number is probably fluid, meaning people float in and out of that 19% making it a higher number than shown overall
There are more I am sure. Now...there seems to be a HUGE misconception that the seriously mentally ill are violent. The American Psychiatric Association lists this from a study in 2016
Mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides. [sic]
The overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3%. When these crimes are examined in detail, an even smaller percentage of them are found to involve firearms.
We also need to really examine the differences between clinical depression and just plain things that are depressing.
No excuses but from a Mental Health standpoint this kid had everything to be depressed about, he was adopted which carries its own feelings of abandonment, then both adoptive parents died including Mom unexpectedly. Those are some good reasons to be depressed
But...lots of people lose their parents. My own mother lost her Mom when she was 3 and her Dad at age 17. That led to a life of depression and even some acting out. At times it took a team, even a village, to stabilize her.
The don't all grab an AR-15 and shoot 32 people though. So if many others have experienced the same sort of life or even worse...but never kill anyone...how do we weed the truly evil people out.
Look at the numbers above...at any given time 20% of us are under a classified "Mental Illness" of some sort. 1 in 5. Spanning Democrats, Republicans, Independents and all in between. This includes gun owners and gun haters. Guns are the number 1 cause of suicide.
So what do we do? My personal belief is throwing money at Mental Health is like throwing money at the drug wars like we did in the 90's and are about to do again. My previous blog entry was actually about the problem with mental health services and the good and bad of the current state...mostly good people...mostly a horrible system. Anyway that was last entry
So...what we all need to accept is that anyone, anywhere, known or unknown is capable of doing this. We were told to "speak up" and many people did and no one listened or acted. Of course someone is mentally ill that commits a mass shooting but 20% of us suffer from it. Can you imagine if 20% of our population were undercover terrorists? We'd go nuts trying to figure out who to "speak up" about....especially if we all looked the same.
So weeding out individuals is truly nearly impossible. Impinging on the 2nd amendment is dangerous...and that's coming from a non gun owner, liberal Democrat. The nuclear bomb argument is silly...gun owners don't view the government as the military...but rather as fragments of groups whose ideology eventually crosses the line of acceptable behavior and leads to literally fighting in the streets. This is the beginning of how governments end.
So what do we do? I think it takes an attack from many angles.
1. Train students to create groups of inclusion. The national movement to not let kids eat alone at lunch is brilliant and its a start. Reaching out to "loners" may take more than 1 attempt...reasons that training is needed. There are enough good kids to make this work
2. Get rid of bump stocks, assault weapons and anything that is military grade. Period. Its time to accept it must happen. Just as free speech, our most prized right, has some restrictions...the 2nd amendment can absorb this.
3. Put any money pumped in to the place it needs to be. Put a school Psychologist in every school. Pay teachers and train them on not just how to identify but what to do after that. We never talk about "what do we do once we have a concern". Pay case managers a good wage and allow them to see and help people of all ages just cope.
4. Understand that Mental Health isn't fixed in 6 visits. It isn't an exact science. Be honest about treatment, listen to the consumers of services. Don't stigmatize when trying to help, its received enough by people that don't understand or are not sensitive to it.
Pray for our country