Kristen Anderson: Damaging conversation

January 21, 2013 

Most not violent

In the wake of recent mass violence, attention has again turned to our “broken” mental health care system. Inevitably, mental illness becomes conflated with violence as people seek solace by attempting to explain the unfathomable.

We must not fall into this logical fallacy that dangerously perpetuates the myth that the “mentally ill” are violent. In fact, they are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, according to numerous studies and the American Psychiatric Association.

The comments in the Jan. 10 letter “Help mentally ill” are a prime example of the misguided and stigmatizing conversation that arises after such tragedies. The writer discusses the closing of Dix and the park slated for its grounds, not out of compassion for those living with psychiatric disorders and concern that they deserve better than our current system, but in paranoia about the potential harm these individuals might do to the general (sane) public.

The writer’s energy would be better spent suspiciously surveying all young, white males in the park or watching for stormy weather because people are far more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by someone experiencing psychotic symptoms.

Kristen Anderson


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