In the last year, 34,000 Americans committed suicide. 8 million contemplated it. One in four mentally ill Americans are victims of violence.
But this. This: 50 people in a gay bar, killed by a man who was “cool and calm” as he went about his massacre… this is what you want to use to raise awareness?
Every day, people die from mental illness. And yet, the focus is only shifted to mental health when a mass killer goes on a spree. And us people with bipolar, with depression, with schizophrenia, and every other illness, are supposed to be thankful.
“Finally!” you expect us to say. “Finally you’re looking at us.”
Except that man, he’s not one of us. The boy who killed in Sandy Hook wasn’t one of us. The San Bernadino killer wasn’t one of us. A very small percentage of mass killers are actually mentally sick. In fact, mentally ill people are less likely than the rest of the population to commit gun crimes in general.
Most people who spend days, weeks, months, years planning to kill a group of people and then pulls it off with calm precision are not mentally ill. To pull that off, you need control of your mental faculties. You need your brain, your mind, your glands in normal functioning order.
In other words, most mass shooters are sane. And when they do kill, mental illness is rarely, if ever, the cause of their horrendous crimes.
And your insistence that they are not is only causing you to avoid the real issues. It is a way for you to be bipartisan and avoid the uncomfortable realities of terrorist ideology or gun control. We are being used as pawns in your internal war of cognitive dissonance.
And by making us pawns, you are actually hurting us. When you only speak up when there is a mass shooting, you create an aura of danger around us. Any one of us could be a mass killer if we don’t get treatment is the not-so-hidden message.
I read an article today that claimed that it was bipolar that caused this man to beat his wife.
I am bipolar. I was in a mental hospital. I am friends with many bipolar people.
My friends, myself, and even the friends I made in the mental hospital at the lowest moments in their lives, none of us would ever do this.
Yes, the man may have been bipolar, but bipolar does not cause evil acts.
The argument that it does is like making the argument that the Stanford student raped that poor woman because of alcohol. Plenty of people have done just that, and we are now educated enough to know just how dangerous such statements are.
Alcohol maybe caused him to sickly believe he could get away with the evil inside of him in public the way he did. But people who drink do not go around raping people because they are drunk, as anyone who has been drunk would know.
And so is the case with those who are bipolar. We don’t go around having fantasies of shooting 50 people with absolutely no regrets.
Only an evil ideology implanted into an individual with the capacity for evil can cause such madness. And access to the means to accomplish his goal.
Therapy will not stop such a person from killing. As we know, some mentally ill killers like Elliot Rodger saw multiple therapists before going on their rampages.
What such people need is moral education. Or to be separated from society. At the very least, we need to stop making guns so easily accessible to them.
But, of course, facing these realities means we need to confront our inner beliefs that there is not a very scary ideology spreading around the world, and that guns enable those people and others to live out any sick ideology that catches them.
So, stop using my illness as an excuse to stop facing reality. Stop using my community by trying to make us feel grateful that you are finally paying attention to us.
Your job now is to put away your own in-the-box ideology and address this problem as honestly as you can. To face what is wrong in your own world, in your own political dimension so that you can stop defending yourself and start defending the innocent.
If you want to help the mentally ill, focus on us when we are the victims, not perpetrators. Focus on the 34,000 people committing suicide every year. Focus on the millions suffering from untreated mental illness every day.
But in this story, there are other victims. The 50 gay men and women killed, the 53 wounded, the hundreds more who witnessed this horrific act and will live it for the rest of their lives. The families. And the gay community, that will now feel even less safe than it ever has. Those are the victims, and your attempt to make this a conversation about mental health is a dishonor to their memory.
Honor their memory by letting go of politics and facing reality. Honor their memory by not seeing their deaths as an opportunity to say “I told you so!” but instead focusing inwards on what you yourself might be missing. Honor their memory by refusing to use politically expedient conversations as a way to avoid your responsibility for inner honesty.
These are the same skills you’ll need to learn how to deal with the overwhelming issue of mental health in our country. So, the sooner you get there, the better.
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