The tragic shooting in Arizona has spurred many emotional headlines and provocative stories in the news. News stories have used the words “insane,” “coldblooded,” “bizarre,” “evil” and “troubled.”
Whenever tragedies such as this occur, emotions are stirred and people often look for clear answers. Unfortunately, tragedies like this do not have easy answers. Whether or not mental illness is involved in this case, this may be a moment to look at every way to reduce the risk of another tragedy such as this in the future.
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, currently in an Arizona hospital as a result of the shooting, is a friend to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and has served as co-chair of several fundraisers for NAMI in Southeast Arizona.
There are so many ways in which the mental health system in the United States is broken. Treatment is often hard to access and expensive. Consistent treatment is often nearly impossible for those with severe mental illness. Advocating for improved access to quality mental health care is critically important at a time like this.
In addition, it is also important to remember that the likelihood of violence from those who struggle with mental illness is very low. Most of the violence perpetrated in this country is by individuals without mental illness. Most individuals suffering from mental illness are not violent.
No matter the cause, a time like this calls for reflection and action: examining all the factors that can be changed to minimize the risk of something like this happening in the future.