Mental Health and Mass Shootings

Sorry I’ve been MIA. My laptop quit on me and I had to get a new one.

Getting into politics and topics where people are very opinionated makes me very nervous. A few years ago I engaged in a conversation about politics and it ended with broken relationships and a sour taste in my mouth. I’m definitely a people pleaser and don’t enjoy conflict. Having Borderline Personality Disorder, I struggle with relationships as it is and would hate to give anyone a reason to abandon me. Plus my anxiety skyrockets trying to defend myself. The horrors that are plaguing our world are many, and it’s hard to stay silent and just watch on the sidelines. It’s also hard to know what to do. I’m just a 20something from Wisconsin with a blog, what can I do to help save lives? But when I think about it, if we all contributed what we could, the small things would eventually add up. So here’s my effort to make the world a better place in light of the Vegas shooting and the other tragedies that have kills hundreds across our world.

You can’t read an article about the mass shootings in our country without reading about mental health. One of the main focuses tends to be the state of the perpetrator’s mental health. While mental health may contribute to the attacks, it can be a burden put on the entire mental health community. I myself have had people say that I am dangerous and need to be locked away due to my mental health so I don’t shoot or knife anybody. The morning after the 2016 shooting in Florida, some ex-friends decided to discuss on social media that it’s people like me who commit these horrible attacks. This happened shortly after I had been fully discharged from my residential stay at a mental hospital. The fact that I was sick enough to stay at a hospital seemed reason enough to put me in a category with terrorists.

Does mental health contribute to these attacks? Probably. But there are a myriad of other factors that bring someone to pull a gun on others besides mental health. According to the Washington Post, things like criminal profit, acting on religious beliefs, disagreement with government views, and mistreatments like bullying or prejudice are suspected motivations for previous shootings in our country.

Putting sole blame and focusing all efforts on understanding why these things happen onto mental health greatly intensifies the mental health stigma. It gives people an excuse to treat us like criminals, rather than human beings, even when we personally have given them no reason to think we are dangerous people. It’s horrible, being judged and punished for something we haven’t done. It’s hard to even read headlines or watch the news, knowing that people who have never met you are making assumptions about who you are as a person.

In light of yet another tragedy that has struck our country, please remember to be kind to those of us with mental health. Not only is it devastating and stressful to deal with the emotions we feel learning of these horrors, but we’re also dealing with judgment and fear that we’ll be attacked, punished and humiliated based on the sole fact that we have a chemical imbalance in our brains.

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