For those of us who are grieving, these shootings trigger grief. For those who’ve lost loved ones in a mass shooting, it triggers worse grief and possibly PTSD.
The latest shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas have inspired a lot of talk about mental health and very little of it good. Surely, someone so off his rocker to waltz in and unload a magazine of bullets on innocent citizens has to be “crazy,” aka mentally ill.
As much as I want mental illness to be part of the national conversation, this is not how I imagined the conversation going. I object to finger pointing those who suffer mental illness as guilty of all acts of violence. It’s a blanket generalization.
Those with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than the general population.
“One of the largest studies of mass killers, conducted by Dr. Michael Stone and involving 350 people, found that only 20 percent had a psychotic illness; the other 80 percent had no diagnosable mental illness — just the everyday stress, anger, jealousy and unhappiness the rest of us have.” (NYT source)
And those who suffer a mental illness are far more likely to use a firearm to hurt or kill themselves than they are to use it to hurt or kill others. Sixty percent of all gun deaths are suicides. In Virginia, sixty-five percent of all gun deaths were suicides.
History shows us that many who went on shooting rampages were fired which points to people who are angry, picked up a gun in their rage and unloaded on innocent people. Some have suffered abuse or unresolved grief. In the last few years, many shooters have been tied to a supremacist ideology with strong and obsessive prejudices. The political partisan debate, as well as the rhetoric in the media fuels these volatile personalities and their fury.
These shootings represent a larger problem.
I think we have a problem of males with unresolved anger, in part due to the fact that we don’t allow men to express themselves at any point in their lives. I think this is contributing to the rise in mass shootings of innocent people. I think it’s contributing to the rising male suicide rates.