Real Talk: Mental Health

 

No matter where we stand on gun control, we can all agree that unnecessary gun violence happens in this country and that something needs to be done to change this. One potential way that we can begin to answer the debate on gun violence is to become more attentive to recognizing warning signs of potential shooters, as well as diagnosing and addressing mental illness. According to the nonprofit organization Sandy Hook Promise, most criminal gun violence is committed by individuals who lack mental wellness (coping skills, anger management, and other socio-emotional skills). The stigma surrounding mental wellness and mental health in general often prevents it from being a dinner-table conversation. Mental illnesses are usually not seen in this society as actual illnesses like low blood pressure or diabetes. Instead, they are stereotyped. We are brought up to believe that depressed people keep to themselves, are negative and nihilistic all of the time, and seek isolation. When, in reality, depression is a fluid mental illness, not conforming to one specific stereotype that we can compartmentalize people in.

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 8.40.20 PM.pngMore than 90% of individuals who die from suicide using a gun had a diagnosable mental disorder. Ninety percent. That’s 9 for every 10 of the 640 children under 18 that will die this year from suicide by gunshot. That’s 576 people with entire futures ahead of them. It is time to open up the conversation about mental illness, and make it something that we as a society recognize, accept, and take seriously. Whether you stand on a more conservative platform that seeks to preserve historic second amendment rights and avoid government regulation, or whether you come from a liberal viewpoint of desiring greater background checks and regulation over weapons like guns, I think one thing we can all agree on is that gun-related deaths as a result of mental illness are preventable. They simply require the re-orienting of our society to become accepting to mental illness, willingness to discuss its omnipresence, and commitment to destroying the stigmas that currently exist.

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3 Comments

  1. The blog brought a very important point that often goes unmentioned when talking about gun control which was mental illness. You did a really good job of exposing an underlying cause of your issue and you were able to bring both sides of the argument to some point that can be agreed on. The style in which you presented your information was also great. I especially liked the way you presented your fact. It helped to really emphasize the issues at hand with mental illness and stress how important they are. Overall a great job!

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  2. You state that 90% of gun-related suicides had undiagnosed mental illnesses involved. Where did you get this number? Because I feel that there’s a lot of discussion that’s wrapped up in the numbers. Aren’t all suicides part of the mental illness of suicidal thoughts? Or is it other mental illnesses that go undiagnosed? How does this number compare to other forms of suicide? I feel as though I don’t know enough about the subject to make any substantial claims about it other than it lacks context.
    Nicely written though!

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  3. This number came from sandyhookpromise.org! This website provides many research-backed statistics conducted by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation about gun control and school shootings in the United States. I agree that many times the discussion turns into a pile of statistics. The 90% statistic refers to undiagnosed mental illnesses. The majority of suicides do fall into the category of mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression, however, this statistic was referring to those who have gone undiagnosed and continued on to commit suicide without ever receiving treatment or diagnosis for their mental illness.

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