A Lethal Combination: Gun Violence and Mental Health

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

The most recent massacre in Texas, in which Salvador Ramos murdered 19 children and 2 teachers, injured his grandmother, and was later shot by the police leaves us with deep sadness and many questions. Why did this happen? Should the use of weapons be regulated? Did the attacker have a mental health problem? Are all people mentally stable to handle a gun?

To start with, according to Amnesty international, gun violence “is a contemporary global human rights issue. Gun-related violence threatens our most fundamental human right, the right to life. It is a daily tragedy affecting the lives of individuals around the world. More than 500 people die every day because of violence committed with firearms [1] .”

According to The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence [2] , approximately one in five Americans have a diagnosed mental illness in a given year. But mental illness is not a cause for gun violence. The United States has similar rates of mental illness as other countries, but has much higher rates of gun violence, and people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence. Only 4% of interpersonal violence is attributable to mental illness alone and past violent behavior is the best predictor of future violence, regardless of a diagnosed mental illness.

The figures are alarming, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC [3] ) said that there were more than 45,222 firearm-related deaths in the United States in 2020, that’s about 124 people dying from a firearms-related injury each day. Males account for 86% of all victims of firearms death and 87% of nonfatal firearm injuries. More than 7 in 10 medically treated firearm injuries are from firearm-related assaults, and nearly 2 in 10 are unintentional firearm injuries.

On the other hand, Ramo’s mental health situation was reported by different people as “strange”. For example, one of his best friends, with whom he played Xbox, stated that days before the killings he sent him photos of the rifles he later used to commit the crime and a backpack full of 5.56 cartridges. Ramos was a waiter at Wendy’s, his boss confirmed that he was a lonely person and that he dedicated himself to working and collecting the check. Finally, it is known that he suffered from bullying and economic problems with his family [4] .

This issue leaves a lot “on the table” and will not be fixed soon. What we can do immediately is to start detecting behaviors such as loneliness, anxiety and depression in society, reject bullying and as a society, normalize when someone tells us how they feel and wants to seek professional help, and then help them find it.






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