Mental Health and Mass Shootings

It happened again today, at a school again too.

I want to be surprised, but I think at this point I would be more surprised if it did not happen.

I am going to need to take care of my mental health today, and you might too. I will be posting more resources about that on my Facebook page. But for now, since it is mental health awareness month, I'd like to focus on that.

We like to think we know a lot about gun violence. But the truth is that what we know is limited because research on gun violence has been limited for a long time. And the information we do have depends on how people define "mental illness" and "mass shooting."

I am not going to say that a mass shooter is someone who is mentally well. I think we can agree that someone who is mentally healthy does not see mass shooting as the best plan of action. However, I do want to clearly state that being mentally healthy and not having any mental health diagnosis are not the same thing.

A person can have a mental health diagnosis such as Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, etc. and be mentally healthy. They can be taking good care of themselves, seeing a therapist, taking prescribed medication, have a good support system, know their personal signs of worsening and have a plan to follow, purposefully keep themselves away from weapons if that has been a concern. A person can also have no mental health diagnosis and not be mentally healthy. They might misuse substances, have anger issues, not learn how to manage their emotions, not be taking care of themselves, or simply have never sought treatment. 

We do know a couple things about gun violence and mental health that seem pretty clear. One is that death by gun by suicide is actually more common than death by gun by homicide. But again, a diagnosis does not mean suicide and no diagnosis does not mean no suicide. We also know that there is a relationship between domestic violence and gun violence.

So today, think about how you are going to take care of yourself or others, and make a commitment to think critically when you see people "taking sides" between if it is a gun problem or a mental health problem - there is a lot of grey in between and the truth is, the answer is rarely black or white in the real world.

 

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