Comments on
Mental Illness, Tragedy, and a Big Slippery Slope

Just about every day you hear how we need to ” do something” about gun violence, especially how it relates to the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. Ideas have included armed guards at school, tighter gun control laws, some involvement with mental illness (more screenings, possibly a registry, etc.), restrictions on ammunition, and more.

8 thoughts on “Mental Illness, Tragedy, and a Big Slippery Slope

  • January 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Are there “tells” that would help spot someone who may be dangerous? Clues that a salesperson in a gun store could use to alert authorities of someone on the edge? Gun stores are at the front line of weapon sales and with better education may be able to help.

    • January 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Al, interesting question/s about the point of sale. I haven’t personally heard much about that part of the equation. Would like to know more about their training and requirements as sellers.

      As for just “sensing” that someone is dangerous, I don’t know that’s sort of a crap shoot. You can’t have someone committed or arrested just because you “feel” they could be dangerous. You’d have to have some sort of cause to go that far, something observable or reportable. Behavioral clues and perhaps some statements would be about all you could tell, other than some sort of legal record or rumors of a dangerous plan. Otherwise, it’s down to mind-reading or all sorts of profiling (guesses).

      That’s why this is so difficult. And someone who acquires a weapon in a calm state of mind may be someone who commits a violent act sometime later. And what about those who use guns but aren’t the purchaser? Some of that we just can’t tap into so easily.

  • January 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Perhaps some recognition by the legal system that with mental illness and psycopathic personalities recognition of right from wronng become moot – Iss the mental health system problamatic? Oh yes, without question – but it is of no matter as long as the legal system continues to insist on free-agency decision making as the ONLY standard

  • January 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Guns can be stolen from a legal gun owner. Crimes can be committed with other weapons (cars, fertilizer bombs). The best way to a better society is control violent content in entertainment media, such as Theater movies, TV and computer gaming. Tax violent content, R and X rated, for the mental health damage its doing. Games like Grand theft auto with car jacking and murder. Movies like Batman inspiring the Joker in the Aurora massacare.

  • January 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I have no qualifications, just opinions. 1. If mental illness is going to be linked with tragedies such as Sandy Hook, then no one is going to want to be diagnosed with one. 2. I have known numerous people with some sort of “diagnoses,” but not one of them has done anything bad. 3. The truly bad people who hurt me have not been identified with mental illness, but by all looks are law-abiding, well-regarded, stand-up citizens. 4. I was actually hoping that more diagnoses would be covered under the parity laws, because I am certainly not getting any insurance coverage for expensive therapy. 5. However, if mental illness is now going to be under a veil of suspicion linked with violence and criminal behavior, then why do I want to be linked to that? 6. Of course some (or maybe all) criminals have mental illness. But what about the rest of the “normal” people who just want insurance to pay for more mental health diagnoses, so they can get therapy, and continue to be regular law-abiders without feeling further alienated than they (or me) already do?

  • January 17, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Yes, there is mental illness stigma, but so what.

    There is a clear link to violence connected with emotional problems, delusional thinking, impulsivity, connection with drinking and all that. I have been writing about this for some time in my blog at the link above and in my book Defying Mental Illness. A larger potential issue is suicide. We have 30,000 gun deaths per year, and 19,000 of these are suicides.

    The key issue in my mind is risk, not rights. We have developed a political-correctness mindset around certain things we say about people with mental illness. That mindset prevents people from gaining access to treatment (nobody is ever unsafe enough for gatekeepers even when in high distress or at high risk of suicide). This rhetoric is as dangerous as saying that people should never have a say in treatment, that clinicians should have all the power. It’s just not precise or connected with a person’s actual capacity or risk.

    The only way to work this is be accurate about risk in each individual person’s case. We know that people with a wide range of issues and capacities read the material posted in the text and comments on sites like this. I think it’s just wrong to leave rhetoric about that a self-deluding reader might use to justify his own gun ownership. It almost makes us complicit in allowing a person to access a tool of their death.

    So, fellow readers, here’s my bottom line. Even if you’re not delusional right now, if you are depressed, bipolar, and/or a person who drinks or uses drugs, especially if you have gotten into trouble for drinking, or if you have borderline personality disorder, paranoid schizophrenia or PTSD or an eating disorder, or if you have anger issues or shame issues or a lot of resentment, or have ever had a suicidal impulse, or consider yourself a violent person or have ever acted violently, or dropped out of treatment, then you should not own a gun. Your risk factors for suicide/violence are just too high.

    If you’re over all that, and you are doing okay, go shooting on an outing with your friends at a gun range if you want. Just don’t bring the gun home. You’re not safe with it there.

  • January 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    The conspiracy, widespread, to attach a stigma to mental illnesses matches past conspiracies to attach stigmas to rape, to Jews.

    For a while the conspiracies are succesful. For a while.

  • January 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Why not just leave the question of mental illness out of the equation and get the semi and automatic weapons off the streets and out of the hands of all citizens, except for the police and military. Don’t have any exceptions to the law that forbids semi and automatic weapons; make it unlawful to own or possess a semi or automatic weapon, and impose a heavy fine with imprisonment for those that are caught with semi or automatic weapons – PERIOD. This is so simple it almost is factious. There is no reason for anyone to own a semi or automatic weapon. They are not manufactured to kill game or have target practice. They are made for one purpose – to kill many human beings in the shortest time possible.


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