This is getting way too predictable. Guy shoots people, concerns about mental illness start cropping up. Repeat after me: The mentally ill are no more likely to be violent than the general population.
What really gets me about this one, though, is the utter lack of evidence that the guy is mentally ill. His family mentions him as being ‘troubled’…but what does that even mean? It’s way too vague a term to tell us anything. There’s no indication that he was being treated for anything (in all fairness, as an adult that ball was entirely in his court, so if he didn’t want help he didn’t have to get any). There’s no comment about him having been violent in any way before this. The most of substance that is said in the article is that he stopped going to church a few years ago. Which, like the ‘troubled’ comment above, tells us absolutely nothing. Lots of people stop attending services all the time, and it doesn’t really mean anything more than they decided they didn’t want to go anymore. Heck, I didn’t go in college only because I couldn’t be bothered to go off campus for it. He had the choice whether or not to attend, he chose not to, for reasons that we can only guess at. I remember learning that to be news, something had to be ‘significant, interesting, and new’. I’d say this article only passes the last of those, because it doesn’t have enough substance to it to be significant or interesting.
The other thing that drives me nuts about this is that it highlights genuine issues with the worst possible light. Yes, there’s an issue with stigma about being mentally ill. Yes, this makes it harder to convince people who need help to get it. Yes, we need to deal with that. But bringing those issues up in the context to trying to prevent an event like this one really doesn’t help. It just reinforces the idea that being mentally ill makes people dangerous, which will make people less likely to admit to themselves, much less others, that they are sick, which will make it harder to get people the help they need for their own sakes. Can we stop framing this as something that’s needed to stop violence and just deal with it as an issue that needs to be addressed for the sake of helping sick people?