Every country has mental illness - but only in the USA do people have easy access to guns with few limitations…
A familiar pattern plays out after every mass shooting in the US.
First, advocates of gun control point out, accurately, that taking guns off the streets and limiting who can buy them will save lives. Then opponents of gun control argue that there are no regulations that can stop a determined shooter, and that what we really need is to address mental health. Then liberal gun control advocates insist they too want better mental health care, and that Republican gun control opponents are hypocrites because they oppose expanding access to health insurance that would help people get it.
It’s an understandable pattern. Trying to slash Medicaid funding nearly in half, as President Trump proposed in his budget, and then explaining the Texas church shooting by saying “mental health is your problem here,” as Trump did during a press briefing, really is hypocritical. It’s not something a person who genuinely cares about mental health access would do. And it remains the case that too few Americans have access to good-quality mental health care.
But the convenient cries of “mental health” after mass shootings are worse than hypocritical. They’re factually wrong and stigmatizing to millions of completely nonviolent Americans living with severe mental illness.
The share of America’s violence problem (excluding suicide) that is explainable by diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is tiny. If you were to suddenly cure schizophrenia, bipolar, and depression overnight, violent crime in the US would fall by only 4 percent, according to an estimate from Duke University professor Jeffrey Swanson, a sociologist and psychiatric epidemiologist who studies the relationship between violence and mental illness.
“We have a strong responsibility as researchers who study mental illness to try to debunk that myth,” says Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University. “I say as loudly and as strongly and as frequently as I can, that mental illness is not a very big part of the problem of gun violence in the United States.”
The overwhelming majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent, just like the overwhelming majority of all people are not violent. Only 4 percent of the violence—not just gun violence, but any kind—in the United States is attributable to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression (the three most-cited mental illnesses in conjunction with violence). In other words, 96 percent of the violence in America has nothing to do with mental illness.
Read full article: