"We cannot eliminate a mental illness, but we can diminish it to deter mass gun violence”, said Dan Rather.
Dan Rather said other horrendous things that were printed in the paper as well. They were quotes from a talk he gave recently.
Below is my letter to the editor of the paper that published the 1/2 page Dan Rather article. It appears that the paper is not going to publish my submission – so I will. Please feel free to use all or some of it in your work, disseminate it; let’s spread truth far and wide.
To the editor:
“Rather Talks Mental Health, Homelessness” (12/26/15) makes numerous excellent points about practical resources and supports – such as housing and jobs – that allow people with mental health conditions to live successfully in the community.
Unfortunately, Dan Rather made erroneous comments about a presumed connection between mass gun violence and mental illness; and the Gondolier published this false information, which further propagates the myth.
For the facts, read an article by Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20), “Why Equating Mental Illness With Violence Harms Us All,” in which he correctly states that “study after study has shown that there is no connection between those with mental illness and violence.” Similarly, an extensive new study published in the American Journal of Public Health by two Vanderbilt University researchers “challenges common assumptions about gun violence and mental illness that often emerge in the aftermath of mass shootings.”
Blaming an already marginalized group of people unjustly reinforces the widespread prejudice and discrimination faced by people with mental health diagnoses. This uninformed, fear-based, knee-jerk reaction to tragedies that can be traced directly to the lack of sensible gun control legislation. Such false preconceptions contribute to community exclusion and create barriers for people trying to work toward recovery.
As you plan future community dialogues, I strongly urge that people with lived experience of mental health conditions be on the panel. There are many of us, locally and nationally, who would be pleased to deepen the conversation.
Former Director, National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery