John Oliver Nails the Real Problem With Discussing Mental Health and Shootings


Often in the aftermath of a mass shooting, like the tragedy at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College last Thursday, politicians and the media speculate why, sometimes focusing on the mental health of the shooter. Or, as John Oliver put it on Sunday night’s episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “There’s nothing like a mass shooting to suddenly spark political interest in mental health.”

Then in a 12-minute monologue (below), Oliver nails why discussing mental health issues after a mass shooting — and only after a mass shooting — is not only misleading but unproductuve, considering fewer than 5 percent of gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people diagnosed with mental disorders.

“In real life, mental health can be somewhat of a touchy topic,” Oliver says. “We don’t like to talk about it much… and when we do, we don’t talk about it well.”

Instead of dwelling on the possible connection between mental health and shootings, Oliver broke down our “clusterf*ck” of a mental health system, proving the conversation about mental health shouldn’t start, or end, with shootings.

Watch the full video below:


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

5 Ways to Show Support When a Friend’s Loved One Attempts Suicide

A friend just told you his or her loved one attempted suicide. How does one react to this information? First and foremore, be there. Be there for the person who just told you this information, and be fully present with them. Because for every person who’s struggling with mental illness, there are loved ones who [...]

Sh*t People Say to People With Mental Illness

Finally, there’s a sh*t people say to people with mental illness video, and it’s pretty hilarious — especially if you’ve been there. “For so many years I’ve heard people say things like this, but haven’t spoken up,” the video’s creator Rachel Griffin, a graduate student at New York University, told The Mighty. “When you’re having [...]
black and white photo of blonde woman

Why I'm Too Scared to Stay Silent About Suicide

A friend reached out this morning for advice. A dear friend of hers died by suicide. “What do you say when someone takes their own life?” she asked. It could have been me. My friend and I talked briefly about her friend. I had never met him; I didn’t know him. But at the same [...]

14 Things Parents of Children With Mental Illness Want You to Know

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 4 million children and adolescents in the United States have a serious mental disorder. And behind most of these children are parents — parents fighting stigma and misunderstanding to get their child the best care possible. We asked our Mighty readers who are parents to a child with a [...]