AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry
The Sandy Hook tragedy has got people talking worldwide. We may never know for certain if the suspect had a mental illness, but a lot of people are now wondering if mental illness could lead somebody to kill dozens of people. As a mental health advocate, I have an opinion.
The tragic shooting in Connecticut, like the tragic one before it in Colorado, once again has the public seeking answers and pundits seeking the easiest answers to give. Guns and mental illness -- these are the issues on the tip of the average tongue. Like a number notions entrenched in the public consciousness, they are somewhat untrue.
The term "mental illness" has been thrown around as a quick and easy solution for gun enthusiasts and media alike. Mental illness, in turn, is conflated with violence through a process of loaded renaming. Mentally ill people are "disturbed," "threatening," "bad people," and ultimately counter-cultural figments of fear induced imaginations.
Essentially what this means is that there are those who need psychiatric treatment and then there is the rest of the world that needs to protect themselves from those people. The truth of mental illness is it is not a static concept, an ailment reducible to genetic rhetoric, there is no "murderer gene." Tragedies are not questions, hence there are never any answers.