Mental health reform and guns - the link you can't ignore
The Kansas City Star
I know the country is involved in a very heated gun debate and mental health reform. I think the nation agrees our mental health system is in crisis.
NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre said it many times that guns aren’t the problem and fixing our broken mental health system in this country is what we need to be the number one priority.
Wayne and I definitely don’t agree on the first part, but we do agree on the 2nd part.
There was a report released from the Committee on Population that compared US life expectancy rates to those of other similar nations. We ranked #16 in life expectancy versus other similar nations.
From the Committee on Population: The result is that the life expectancy for men in the United States ranked the lowest among the 17 countries reviewed, at 75.6 years, while the life expectancy for US women ranked second lowest at 80.7 years. The countries reviewed included Canada, Japan, Australia, and much of Western Europe.
What is interesting in this report is injuries - specifically intentional injuries were listed as a reason for our decreased ranking and dropping male life expectancy rate - a.k.a. suicide.
The number one way that men commit suicide - GUNS - handguns to be specific.
Now we will never know if the men who committed mass shootings were suicidal and decided to kill innocent lives as part of their suicidal mission, but what we do know is that suicide in this country is reducing our male life expectancy and this is part of our mental health crisis that can’t be ignored.
We do know that men are four times more likely than women to have successful suicide attempts. We do know that handguns play a major role in suicide. We also know that in domestic violence deaths can be linked to homicide of the victim and suicide of the murderer.
To ignore these statistics is to be irresponsible to the commitment to “overhaul our mental health system”. Diagnosing our mentally ill, finding what their triggers are, getting them adequate counseling and monitor their medication to prevent further tragedies is an extremely difficult task that our society has little control over.
What we do have control over is reducing the number of guns that get into the hands of people with mental illness. We can do this with increased background checks and no more gun shows.
Will my suggestions solve all suicides and mass shootings? Absolutely not, but maybe some thinking like this will get this conversation started.
Millions of lives depend on solutions like these -the ones who are victims of the mass shootings and the ones who are victims of their own mental illness and end their own lives with a gun.