As ever, the mainstream media are sensationalizing “mental health” and the connection to gun massacres. Let’s not forget that mental health can be categorized in a broad variety of ways – from mild anxiety, ADHD to PTSD and full blown bi-polar or schizophrenia. The mainstream media would have us believe that Trump wants the keys to the gun cabinet handed over to certified crackpots to go on white supremacist fueled mass rampages. It is easy to say that those who commit these atrocities must be mad. How easy is it to fall for that assumption? Yet the stats say otherwise.
First, what is this bill that has been repealed by Trump? Why is the media making such clickbait hyperventilating news of something that was already enacted c.2 years ago?
The previous Obama bill allowed gun retailers to get access to “mental health” related social security benefits paid to potential buyers. There are nine categories of mental disorders covered in the Social Security Blue Book. These include:
Autism and related disorders
Organic Mental Disorders
Schizophrenia, paranoia, and psychotic disorders
The idea is that if one had claustrophobia or similar mild anxiety, it would be unlikely to be a factor in causing someone to shoot up a Walmart. In order to get mental health disability checks, the applicant must prove compliance to prescribed medication and that they seek regular treatment from professionals. Why do we automatically assume that mental health status is a direct trigger to mass murder? Simply because it is easy to categorize these events to unhinged crazies and presume that there was ‘illness’ involved.
A study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in America showed,
“Thirty-four subjects, acting alone or in pairs, committed 27 mass murders between 1958 and 1999. The sample consisted of males with a median age of 17. 70% were described as a loner. 61.5% had problems with substance abuse. 48% had preoccupations with weapons. 43.5% had been victims of bullying. Although 23% had a documented psychiatric history, only 6% were judged to have been psychotic at the time of the mass murder. Depressive symptoms and historical antisocial behaviors were predominant. There was a precipitating event in most cases–usually a perceived failure in love or school–and most subjects made threatening statements regarding the mass murder to third parties. The majority of the sample clustered into three types: the family annihilator, the classroom avenger, and the criminal opportunist.”
Recall Cuban Parkland, Florida student Emma Gonzalez admitted she’d bullied the shooter Nikolas Cruz. It doesn’t excuse his actions. Nor hers.
Take cyber bullying stats from the Association of Psychological Science in the US. In 2015 more than 16,000 young people were absent from school daily because of bullying. 83% of young people say cyber bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem. 30% of young people have gone on to self-harm as a result of cyberbullying. 10% of young people have attempted to commit suicide as a result of cyberbullying.
So the stats tell us in 3 out of 4 cases, mental illness was not the culprit in mass shootings. A violent/bullying, substance abuse based environment was.
As mentioned in the previous post, how is it we can find out about the history of shooters within hours of the terror? Surely the powers at the FBI, NSA etc can monitor the traffic of hate – death lists, death threats etc and use that as the basis of background checks rather than rely on whether someone received mental health related disability cheques? Perhaps someone who is fully healed from a mental illness as a child poses no threat if wanting to hunt or fire at a supervised gun range. Perhaps that individual wants to be a security guard?
Dr Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral science at the Duke University School of Medicine believes that in the event of unlawful use of a firearm by those with mental illness, 95% likely to turn the weapon on themselves than commit homicide.
He also believes that those who are violent or been charged with assault make far better predictors of homicidal behavior than the outcome of a mental health diagnosis.
In Connecticut, almost 23,300 people were diagnosed with a history of serious mental illness. 7% were disqualified from owning a gun because of that mental record. 35% were banned based on a disqualifying criminal record that wasn’t necessarily linked to the mental illness.
Dr. Swanson closed with,
“We need to think of violence itself as a communicable disease. We have kids growing up exposed to terrible trauma. We did a study some years ago, looking at [violence risk] among people with serious mental illness. The three risk factors we found were most important: first, a history of violent victimization early in life, second, substance abuse, and the third is exposure to violence in the environment around you. People who had none of those risk factors ― even with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia ― had very low rates of violent behavior…Abuse, violence in the environment around you ― those are the kinds of things you’re not going to solve by having someone take a mood stabilizer.”
Sadly such is the state of lazy journalism that ‘respected media outlets’ simply infer that those that commit mass murder are simply head cases and giving them access to guns will somehow create a bigger problem. That’s how the mainstream media is portraying a 2-yr old bill to whip up more misunderstanding.