In the wake of the recent nightclub shooting in Orlando, there are voices that are again loudly touting mental illness as a key target for preventing the repetition of such horrors.
Yet, as we wrote last year, researchers have already debunked the link between mental illness and gun violence. Instead, we found access to guns increases rates of suicide, but not of homicide. However, what most people don’t know is that, underlying all of this, there is policy prohibiting research from delving further into the issue and discovering where the evidence leads us.
Today’s culture has embraced an erroneous connection between mental illness and violence, partly due to exaggeration by the media, especially in light of the many mass killings in the past several years. The Sept. 1 post on Beacons Lens that appeared after the on-air shooting in Virginia addressed this very point, stating, “[t]he proliferation of today’s media makes it too easy to draw conclusions that aren’t necessarily based in the evidence, often blurring the line between fact and fiction, a view supported by research.” There is, however, an important caveat to this mix of stereotypes and prejudices: the problem of suicide. The 20th century French writer and philosopher, Albert Camus, asserted that suicide is the one truly serious philosophical problem….