We need to Trump the narrative around mental health and guns

This week, the world saw yet another horrific shooting in an environment which should never relate to such a narrative. Young people, in a school in Florida, who went to educate themselves in the classroom, take part in extracurricular activities and be with their friends found themselves detached from all the above due to bullets from a gun. The images of young kids running out of an educational establishment fearing for their lives sticks with all of us every time this happens. The traumatic pictures of parents with tears running down their shattered faces, as they pray that their kid will be the next to walk out, or be on that next bus. The sheer fear in the faces of the members of a community now broken by this dreadful scene playing out in front of them. The sirens of multiple agencies running towards the danger. The ambulances and the police cars flashing into the darkness of the night. All this sadness, panic, heartache, fear, hopelessness and anger generated by bullets from a gun.

As I write this, I feel a deep awareness of the caution I’m taking when writing about the most recent fatal school shooting in America, trying to find the words to express my frustration and anger at seeing fellow human beings suffer so much. Whatever anyone says in the coming weeks will not take away the deep-rooted agony that friends, family members and those close to the victims will be feeling and my heart goes out to them. Although I feel a certain level of trepidation in writing this, I feel when events like this happen there is a narrative that a time for reflection is needed, but events like that in Florida continue to happen.

The debate around gun control can be noisy and sometimes cause mass division. I don’t believe for a second that this debate will not be partisan and controlled through the media outlets who maintain their ideological mindsets, but I know that Democrats and Republicans were both grieving, hurting and praying for the friends and families of those taken this week.

Donald Trump, decided to go with the narrative of mental health as the reason for a disturbed young man going into a school and committing this horrific attack. Although I recognise there were a multitude of factors, the simplistic nature of the Presidents narrative about why something this extreme happened, is not only wrong in my opinion, but defies any reasonable logic. This individual may have had mental health issues, but to use that as a scapegoat to explain the disturbing nature of such an act makes no sense.

There is one key factor in every incident of this nature, and that is a gun. The fact that a vulnerable individual like the young man here can purchase a firearm and commit the atrocity of this week is the problem. I don’t believe that this is a partisan opinion, I believe this is a factual statement. This is not just an issue in school shootings, the fact is there were 22,018 firearm suicides in the United States in 2015 alone shows that this spans much deeper than the saddening events of last week. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). To add, most deaths from guns in the United States are suicides (Source: CDC Report on Guns) around 66%. Yet again, one correlation is the access to guns. In February 2017, the Obama administrations regulation to keep guns out of the hands of people who are severely mentally ill, adding this information to the national background-check database was revoked with a Bill signed by President Trump.

I am not an American, but as a passionate mental health spokesperson, advocate and a human being, I cannot accept legislation that puts not only vulnerable people with mental illness at risk of suicide, but also puts others at risk too.

It must be added that the majority of people with mental illness will never commit a crime in their lives and are more likely to be at risk to themselves than anyone else, but common-sense gun control would make the frequency of horrific events as seen this week less likely.

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