Mental illness doesn’t predict violence. Mental illness + privilege + guns sometimes does.

When we talk about how mental illness is/isn’t implicated in events like the Vegas shooting, we need to also talk about the role of social isolation, and how that worsens symptoms and deepens rage of all kinds. We must remember the roles that desperation and lack of access to care and resources play in extreme and dangerous behaviors. We cannot in good faith discuss mental illness without noting that it’s rarely ever mentally ill women, nonbinary people, black people, or Latinx people who commit such acts of violence, no matter how deeply they’re suffering. We should not forget that brain tumors have been implicated in many past acts of unpredictable, disastrous violence. We need to be aware that the majority of people with mental illness are nonviolent, and are more likely to be victims of violent crime than those without mental illness. We have to be mindful of how unwellness, suffering, isolation, prejudice, entitlement, and privilege all comingle and rarely, very rarely, result in such crimes. And we can’t forget, ever, how many accidental deaths arise from people without mental illness mishandling guns.

This problem is deep and multifaceted and pinning the blame on the mentally ill, as a class, will never be helpful.

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