Nine innocent people recently lost their lives in a deadly mass church shooting fueled by racism and hate. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families involved in the recent tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina. The amount of violence today is absolutely appalling and it’s truly devastating that I have to write a post like this yet again and within such a short time frame.
One thing that I have observed when events like these occur is that everyone seems to jump to the conclusion that the perpetrator was mentally ill. While this has been true in the past, I feel it is not always the case. If the perpetrator is found to have a mental illness, the media should be careful on how they report it because it can turn into a huge issue. The way the media portrays the mentally ill is part of the reason why a stigma exists in the first place. They make the mentally ill out to be horrendous monsters which is so very far from the truth. There is very rarely, if any, positive things said about those who live with a mental illness in the media. When stories like this appear, people start to stigmatize and make assumptions of all mentally ill persons based on what they hear or see and the stigma just continues to grow. By stigmatizing mental illness like we do, it hinders others from receiving the proper help and support they need. Statistics and research even show that the mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of violent acts rather than being the ones to actually commit the crimes. The numbers of the mentally ill who are violent is incredibly low, but, yes, they still do exist. It is important to keep in mind that not all who live a mental illness are violent though. A person could have the very same illness as a murderer or criminal, but that doesn’t mean all with that particular disorder will do what that one person did. What we need is global understanding and education about mental health in general so more people will become informed.
All in all, the recent acts by Dylann Roof was clearly fueled by hate and racism. Yes, he has a troubled mind, but there isn’t a medication or therapy in the world that can fix racism. Racism is either taught or learned. Mental illness is not.