With the recent events of October 1st, 2015 in Roseburg, Oregon, I felt obligated to write an article pertaining to the media portrayal of these types of events, as well as it’s relation to mental illness. The tragic event started at about 10:30am PDT, resulting in the loss of 10 people, including the gunman himself. This event marks yet another school shooting in the United States, which are averaging about 1 per week, with the total now being 142 since the events at Sandy Hook. While America as a whole is starting to become safer, these events are starting to become commonplace in the United States, which, in itself, should never be the case. It has gotten to the point where the United States hasn’t gone 8 days without an incident of this caliber.
When it comes to law enforcement handling the situation, they are trying to prevent the glorification of the perpetrator by not releasing their name or even focusing on their crime, but rather focusing on what happened to the victims, which I feel is the way this situation should be approached. The media, however, passionately disagrees. In relation to the event in Oregon, we’re starting to see articles pop up like these:
This type of identification and glorification does not add anything constructive to the situation. Yes, it may provide information, but at the same time, it’s giving the individual recognition for what they’ve done – precisely what they are wanting. This type of “anti-hero” glorification may encourage other individuals to repeat these type of events. We, specifically the media, should not be encouraging these events to occur. We should focus on those who were impacted by the event – the victims, not the perpetrator who brought the event to fruition.
In addition to media portrayal of these events, there are other concerns that come to light when events like these happen. Mental illness is one of the major concerns that come to mind, more specifically, a lack of treatment for an individual suffering from a mental illness, or a mental illness that an individual has been living with that hasn’t been identified. There’s a lot of debate over some other concerns among society, such as guns being too easy to obtain in the United States, as well as the security of institutions where these events take place. However, we should be focusing on the first point.
Mental illness is a large factor in whether or not people have these types of thoughts. Treatment for mental illness should be more streamlined – individuals should be able to get the help they need to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring. With the general ignorance toward mental illness in addition to the stigma surrounding it, individuals suffering often feel like they’re insane or alone in the world, exacerbating the underlying illness. It allows them to be alone with all the negative thoughts they may have, which is upsetting and terrifying in itself, but, as we can see from the tragic event from October 1st, if an individual is left alone without external help or support, this is what may happen.
We as a society need to educate ourselves about the myriad of mental illnesses out there. Know the warning signs that are present when someone is suffering from a mental illness. Help them seek help, in whatever way you possibly can. Offer your support to them. Show them that they aren’t alone in regard to how they’re feeling. Furthermore, we need to address and reduce the stigma towards those who are suffering from a mental illness. Instead, we must start treating it exactly as such – an illness.
I will leave you all with a video I saw yesterday relating to the subject matter at hand. I feel that it touches upon the subject quite well.