Don’t blame mental illness


To the editor,

For those of us who are friends and family members of persons who are mentally ill, and for the mentally ill themselves, the current blaming of the mentally ill for the increasingly common mass shootings in this country is deeply troubling. The mentally ill have a hard enough road in their lives without this unfounded stigmatizing.

Some mass shooters have been diagnosed with mental illness. And there is no question that increased mental health services are badly needed.

But the key indicator of future violent behavior is not mental illness, but past violent behavior, childhood abuse, and having access to guns. The stereotyping of persons who are mentally ill as dangerous is not only generally false, but disrespectful and dehumanizing. And it can lead to inaccurate assumptions about a person’s intentions and behavior.

Other countries have the same rate of mental illness and few to no mass shootings.

Thank you to the “Martha’s Vineyard Times” for publishing several excellent articles about mental health and illness. Close friends and family of loved ones who are mentally ill are invited to a monthly support group (first Sunday/MVCS) and free workshops beginning March 5 (Megan Grennan, 508-939-0681, for more information).

Cynthia Aguilar

Vineyard Haven