Mass Shootings ARE a Mental Health Problem

Part of a viral Facebook post by Rhet Richardson about mass shootings
  • genetics (certain genes influence one’s predisposition to schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder etc although many of these genes are only activated with trauma and aren’t a given that you will get the disease if you have the gene)
  • trauma (affects everyone differently, the same trauma may trigger mental illness in some people and not others)
  • environmental toxins (for example, lead exposure has been shown to increase the incidence of certain mental illnesses)
  • drugs (many drugs both prescription and recreational can trigger mental illness such as psychosis or suicidality)
  • brain damage
  • therapy (can help certain mental illnesses but not others, depending on the type of therapy, people may avoid therapy due to shame, denial or lack of access financial and otherwise)
  • prescribed medication
  • self medication
  • exercise
  • meditation
  • addiction to distraction from the symptoms (ie gaming, social media, sex, shopping, gambling, binge eating, binge drinking, recreational drug use)
  • dissociation
  • religion/spirituality
  • community based healing (such as the 12 step program)
  • talking to friends or family
  • talking to people that can relate to your experience (online forums, which can be helpful — recovery forums — or make symptoms worse — pro-ana or incel forums)
  • talking it out
  • crying
  • self harm
  • suicide attempts
  • risky behaviours
  • destruction of property (vandalism, arson)
  • violence
  • setting healthy boundaries and seeking to feel secure in themselves without the need for external praise
  • choosing to see the good and happiness in the world, in defiance of their trauma
  • choosing love and kindness to rise above the hatred of their abusers/bullies
  • making art and creating something
  • rebelling against authority figures such as parents or teachers by rule-breaking or talking back — or against institutions such as the government by breaking the law
  • self harm
  • eating disorders
  • getting a tattoo
  • taking drugs
  • creating a fantasy life in their mind
  • pretending to be someone else online
  • lying
  • masochism (transforming pain into pleasure to overcome pain)
  • dominating people through fear
  • influencing people through people pleasing
  • manipulation
  • violence

Can you see how many permutations there are? The complexity that can arise from layers of factors at every step of a person’s mental health journey and lead to healing and ending the cycle, or disaster and inflicting trauma in another?

Men are not the problem. White people are not the problem. Just as women are not the problem. Minorities are not the problem.

Violence is a trust problem. It’s caused by a loss of trust, and in turn breaks trust. But preventing violence, requires building trust. Starting early on, in childhood. Parents, educators and community providing a safe space for children to grow and learn in an environment where they can trust and not be afraid that others will harm them.

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“The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds” — Cloud Atlas