Okla. Dept. of Mental Health official says connecting mental health to mass shooting is problematic – KOCO Oklahoma City

Okla. Dept. of Mental Health official says connecting mental health to mass shooting is problematic – KOCO Oklahoma City

 

In March alone, there were more than 10 mass shootings across the U.S.; and in many cases, the suspect was said to have suffered from a mental illness.

But can that add to the stigma of people trying to seek help? KOCO 5 spoke with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health to explore this.

Eight people were killed after a man targeted Asian-American-owned spas in Atlanta. Ten people were killed after a man began shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

In both cases, the suspects were said to have suffered from mental illness. But Jeff Dismukes, with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said this is often a default – and a problematic one.

“You don’t really see that link between mental illness and mass shootings,” Dismukes said.

He told KOCO 5 that in most cases, there are multiple contributing factors to leading someone to commit a mass shooting. Dismukes also said people don’t often “snap.”

So, why does mental illness become a catch-all?

“We want answers. We want to make sense of something, really, you can’t make sense of,” Dismukes said.

Blaming mental illness for mass shootings can also discourage people who may really need help from getting it because of the stigma.

“When those illnesses come on and you start seeing these problems, you don’t want to admit that that is what is occurring,” Dismukes said. “It’s a barrier that keeps you from reaching out.”

If you or someone you know needs help, calling 211 is a great place to start.

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