After every horrific mass shooting and disturbing terrorist attack, the reflex is the same: The attacker(s) must be mentally ill.
The shocking randomness of these acts is destabilizing, so simplistic conclusions may provide comfort, but you can’t explain away violence by saying the perpetrators are “nuts.”
Doing so does a grave disservice to those who do suffer from mental illness – the vast majority of whom are not violent – and it prevents us from discussing the complex personal, political and social drivers that create angry, young (for the most part) men.
While some people kill family members for revenge against someone else for a perceived slight or injury, “I would caution people not to rush to judgement in this matter,” said Cashen, adding, “I encourage everyone in our community to not express conjecture on Facebook or other social media.”
O’Connor also advised judicious use of social media. “Wait for all the facts to come out before assuming that what you read is true,” she said. Instead, spend time engaging in self care, such as exercise, creative pursuits and meditation or prayer.
For young children grappling with the news, O’Connor advised telling them, “Just like people can get sick in their body, they can get sick in their minds. Sometimes, when people get sick in their minds, they are in a great deal of pain and can see no other choice but to leave the world. Even though they may feel that way, there are always options, like talking to friends and family. Just like with the flu, we can get better if we take our medicine, talk with someone and take care of ourselves.”
Secretary Price distilled the problem down to its essence by instructing committee members to focus on the “ten, ten, ten problem”: Ten million people have serious mental illness, they die ten years earlier than others, and “ten times more Americans with serious mental illness are in prison than in psychiatric hospitals. . . . We replaced an imperfect and sometimes cruel system of institutionalization with a system that is in many cases even more cruel.” Bingo!
The autism spectrum is very large. If you think of it as a rainbow (or a bell curve), you’ll note that there’s an awful lot of the spectrum that is at neither one end nor the other—but somewhere in the middle.
At this point in history, we don’t have good information to tell us whether most people on the autism spectrum are “somewhere in the middle,” but it is clear that the lion’s share of media attention goes to folks at the high and the low ends of the spectrum—that is, the profoundly disabled and the very high functioning.
The fact is that life with severe autism is extraordinarily difficult. And logic would suggest that people on the high end of the spectrum have it easy—as do their families and teachers. But the reality is quite different.
In America today, roughly 19 million people suffer from depression. It is estimated that at any given time, three to five percent of adults are experiencing a major depressive episode, and 2 of every 100 kids and 8 of every 100 teenagers have severe depression. All of these statistics exist despite depression being a very treatable mental illness. Why? Because many people’s struggle is invisible, even to the people who are closest to them. This is known as concealed depression
The authors of “Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care,” Dinah Miller and Annette Hanson, show both sides of the argument over involuntary treatment in the book but conclude that involuntary commitment is not the best solution.
Hanson said that although a small number of studies suggest that involuntary treatment decreases hospitalization and increases compliance with care, there is no indication that it decreases the violent crime rate. But she said people with serious mental illness commit fewer than 4 percent of all violent crimes and are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator.
In the book, the authors tell the stories of people who have had both bad and good experiences with involuntary treatment. But, Hanson said, that it is hard to find people who feel grateful for involuntary care.