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Guns Kill People, Mental Illness Is a Separate Problem


Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

A lot has been said over the past few days, remembering that the Republican Party voted to let people with a mental illness buy guns. I think I know what they’re going for. I think they are saying that the GOP is making it easier and easier to buy guns. But this language is dangerous.

What the language does is say is that guns aren’t the problem; mentally ill people are the problem. I’m not trying to say that no act of violence has ever been perpetrated by someone with mental illness, but there are awful, bad and — depending on your religious views — evil people in this world; they commit heinous acts as well. Not everyone you think is an asshole is mentally ill.

Not every person whom you don’t like is mentally ill. There are good numbers of assholes out there who experience no kind of mental illness, and they do bad things too. I’ve been fairly open about my mental illness. I live with bipolar disorder II and two different kinds of anxiety disorders. Do you trust me? Do you feel safe around me? Would you let me near your children? And I know plenty of people are thinking, “we’re talking about those other mental illnesses.” If I had those, would you change your answers to the questions I just asked?

We’re not a threat just because we’re mentally ill. We are not a liability. For the record, I support not selling guns to people with mental illness, but I oppose it because I worry about the suicide statistics that already exist and watching them rise. I worry about the gun owner in their darkest moment.

I know some people will disagree with me. That’s fine. That is the beautiful, ugly part of democracy. We’re entitled to our own opinions. But I will say this: If the GOP wants to blame gun violence on the mentally ill, maybe they should put forth a health care plan that doesn’t screw us over.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock photo via kandypix