OPINION: Don’t Blame Mental Health Issues for Mass Murder

By: Aubree Hughes

August 9, 2019

Yesterday, Mental Health Colorado issued the following statement:

“These are heartbreaking times for our country. Mental Health Colorado shares in our country’s collective sorrow, worry, and insistence on meaningful change.

“In the wake of two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, our country’s leadership called for reform to mental health laws while suggesting ‘mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.’

“We cannot continue to blame mental health for situations like this. The rhetoric that mental health is to blame stigmatizes and discriminates against people with mental health conditions. In truth, more people with mental health conditions are the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it. According to the American Psychological Association, rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them.

“Mass shootings by people with mental health conditions represent less than 1% of gun-related homicide. To blame these shootings on mental health seems to be an attempt to oversimplify a complex set of societal problems and dodge accountability to address the range of issues that contribute to gun violence.

“Mental Health Colorado will continue to engage its partners to work with urgency and determination to increase the availability of much-needed prevention and treatment services. Access to these services is essential to resilient and healthy communities. We implore our elected officials, friends, and neighbors to treat people with health conditions, including mental health and substance use disorders, with respect and dignity.”

If, during these particularly challenging times, you feel in need of immediate help, call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255. You can also visit Mental Health Colorado’s help page for more resources.

Originally appeared in the Pagosa Daily Post