Mental illness gets too much room to grow

  • Article by: RICH STANEK
  • Updated: January 14, 2013 - 8:43 PM

Gun control alone will not solve the complex problem of guns and extreme violence. We have an access problem. The mentally ill should never have access to guns.

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pumiceJan. 12, 1312:57 PM

Combine cultural ignorance on the topic of mental health, the stigma associated with mental illness and the lack of professional mental health care providers... is it surprising that mental illness has so much room to grow? As Rich Stanek wrote, "We must 'make it OK' for our family, friends and colleagues to seek treatment" before the illness has reached the stage where the sufferer is no longer rational. When someone is a danger to him/herself and others, we must make it possible for family, friends and/or colleagues to get help for him/her.

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josesaulJan. 12, 13 2:10 PM

I find this to be outrageous. I grew up with guns, being from Texas and with a Vietnam veteran father, and loved shooting. Rifles, shotguns, doing some hunting was just part of life. In my mid 20s I found out I was bi-polar after a serious suicide attempt that did not involve guns. I see my doctors regularly, take my meds, and am the first to admit that I have no business whatsoever of owning a gun. I would like to see a program instituted where someone who is mentally ill can go to their local police department and just register ourselves and sign a form voluntarily giving up our gun ownership "rights". Maybe get a little certificate for doing so, or some way of choosing to sign up for the federal database so that even if I tried to get a gun, I would not be able to. I have never harmed anyone, but I know first hand how bad this disease can be and if I did go off my meds I simply can't predict what insane impulse might manifest. So, again, just create a way so that we can register ourselves and I bet a large number would.

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crystalbayJan. 12, 13 2:17 PM

An excellent and alarming summary of the state of mental health affairs here. Having been in this field for 30 years, I fully concur with the author's depiction of the reality in which we live as well as how the horrific inadequacies in the system have been playing out. What I didn't know was that Minnesota - normally viewed as progressive in terms of health - is #1 for the least psychiatric hospital beds in the country. We can do better than this! The obvious top priority for change is clearly demanding that all states participate in data infusion into a national system for monitoring unstable individuals. We have the capacity for such a system, but apparently not the will to participate.

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crystalbayJan. 12, 13 2:27 PM

"When someone is a danger to him/herself and others, we must make it possible for family, friends and/or colleagues to get help for him/her."...........Greatly complicating the ability of families to even get a member the necessary help are the HIPPA laws preventing parents from even knowing just how serious their young adult children's conditions are. These privacy laws prevent therapists from being able to consult with concerned family members or keeping them abreast of worsening conditions. Most, if not all, families with unstable children have gone the full distance of mining resources/help for their children for many years prior to the age of adulthood. At this point, nothing short of a criminal act can force treatment or monitoring. Since medication-compliance and counseling cannot be forced upon unstable individuals, the very LEAST the system should be doing is monitoring making sure that they do not have access to guns of any kind.

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calicocamJan. 12, 13 5:21 PM

What research is the author of this piece referring to? The research I've seen describes a tenuous link at best between mental illness and a propensity for violence. Other studies contradict it. There are two other factors that most perpetrators of violent crime have in common: a history of violent behavior or aggression in childhood, and use of alcohol and/or other drugs. I would also add that an overwhelming majority - close to 100% - of mass shooters in this country are male. So maybe instead of talking about the mentally ill, you should focus on what turns men into mass shooters, but not women.

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margeanncullenJan. 12, 1310:59 PM

Calicocam I have seen folks go off their meds and they do become a danger to themselves mostly but others sometimes too. I bet Stanick has empirical data from his job and firsthand is the best training in my opionion.

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kd5757Jan. 13, 13 5:00 PM

Children have access to guns and if children do......everybody does. That is the position our country finds itself in.

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chavistaJan. 13, 13 5:38 PM

The issue of mental illness will never be fully addressed. Without pools of blood, bones sticking out of the body or other obvious signs of problems, the politicians won't pay for it nor properly address it because they can’t explain their votes to their constituents. Another problem is our Declaration of Independence where it states, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Although it is not in our constitution, American believes in these principles and they must be applied to the mentally ill as well as every other citizen.

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oimmigrationJan. 13, 13 6:02 PM

Wrong. Most people with mental illness are not violent or dangerous, and they should have the right to own a gun if they so choose. To deny them would be discrimination and would not solve the problem of guns and violence in America. What about people on SSRIs like Prozac which have been linked to violent behavior?? What if a person drinks too much booze, uses illegal drugs, or has anger problems?? Should they be allowed to own a gun?? Should we ban the sale of all booze?? The commonalities the writer lists are also common among the non-mentally ill. So, what we need to do is determine who is truly dangerous be they mentally ill or not, and keep guns out of their hands. I support a ban on all military-style assault weapons and large magazines. There is no need for them in our society, that is going too far. You have to draw the line somewhere. Too much freedom is as bad as too little freedom.

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oimmigrationJan. 13, 13 6:09 PM

There is a difference between evil and mental illness. The two do not go together. And the mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of the non-mentally ill, than the other way around. Are all serial killers mentally ill? No. Most are just bad and evil and nothing more.

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