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Mental health problem, not gun problem, led to Texas shooting, says Trump

November 7, 2017 Mental Health


Mental health problem, not gun problem, led to Texas shooting, says Trump

As the United States tries to deal with yet another tragic gun massacre, critics and advocates of the nation’s gun control laws have renewed their debate on the pros and cons of gun ownership. As worshippers prayed in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2017, an armed man dressed in all black opened fire on them, killing 26 people and wounding several others. The shooter was identified as Devin Patrick Kelley (26), a former member of the U.S. Air Force who was discharged in 2014 due to bad conduct.

While law enforcement officers and local government officials tried to ascertain the motive behind the massacre, President Donald Trump said that the incident represented a “mental health problem at the highest level”. Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Japan, where he is currently visiting, the President cited preliminary reports to describe Kelley as “a very deranged individual.” Terming it as an “act of evil,” he said, “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation.”

Kelley was later found dead inside his vehicle from a suspected gunshot wound after leading the police on a brief chase in which his car crashed. Texas governor Greg Wayne Abbott also described Kelley as “deranged” and said that the incident was the largest mass shooting in the state’s history. The 26 victims were aged between 18 months and 77 years, including the church pastor’s 14-year-old daughter and a pregnant woman.

Gun violence vs. mental health is a complicated issue

President Trump had previously stated his opposition to tightening American gun laws, instead preferring to address mental illnesses to prevent incidents of mass gun violence. His response to the Texas church shooting reiterates his belief that mental illnesses are responsible for shootings, and people with serious mental disorders should be “institutionalized.” Even in the aftermath of the current incident, the President refrained from outlining any legislative or policy measures to address gun violence.

Jeffrey W. Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine, had previously stated that gun violence and America’s failing mental healthcare system are complex, but completely different, public health problems which only “intersect at their edges”. There is limited population-level evidence which supports the assumption that people with mental illnesses have a higher likelihood of perpetrating gun violence.

Mental illnesses, a convenient scapegoat

In most instances of mass shooting, mental illnesses become a convenient excuse to exploit people’s fears, even though such disorders lead to a higher rate of suicides, not homicides, among the affected population. Swanson said that mental illness is just a “highly unspecific” factor causing gun violence, along with other factors like a history of violence or being young, white and male. Always linking mental illness with gun violence leads to false perceptions and perpetuates the associated stigma.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), individuals with a serious mental illness have a 10 time higher likelihood of becoming victims of violent crimes than the general population. Moreover, only 3-5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with serious mental disorders. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) also states that less than 5 percent of the 1,20,000 gun homicides in the U.S. between 2001 and 2010 involved people with mental illnesses.

Dealing with mental disorders

Despite this, mental illnesses remain a serious concern. In 2016, an estimated 44.7 million adults aged 18 years or older (18.3 percent of all adults) suffered from any mental illness (AMI), with an estimated 10.4 million adults (4.2 percent) suffering from a serious mental illness (SMI). Approximately 43 percent of adults with mental illnesses received treatment, which was 65 percent in the case of people with SMI. Although mental disorders do not discriminate between genders, men are less likely to seek mental health help than women.

Any treatment for mental health disorders must be customized to suit the needs of men and women differently. Recover Mental Health experts can help you locate the best rehab for men offering evidenced-based treatment. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-593-2339 or chat online with one of our experts to know about the finest men’s rehab centers for mental health disorders in your vicinity.

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