I’m getting really sick and tired of the media’s portrayl of Cho as a mentally-ill individual and all the following of “leads” from his psychiatric hold and the fact that two girls complained about him to police.
People with mental illness–and that’s 1 in 4 of Americans–are NOT dangerous. Even schizophrenics, those with the classic disorder that comes up when someone says “crazy person”–are NOT dangerous. They are suffering, sick patients. Did you know that the prevalence of schizophrenia in the population is about 1%? That’s 2.2 million Americans. If schizophrenics are so dangerous, we should be expecting to have about 2.2 million more school or workplace shootings sometime soon. (t’s absolutely important that if people need treatment, they get it, and there’s follow-up to make sure they’re getting it.)
Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course. Was Cho a very sick individual? Absolutely. But if we take aggressive, radical steps against every student or person who gets evaluated or placed on a psychiatric hold, we’re going to be hurting a huge number of people based out of fear and ignorance–and wasting a lot of time, money, and energy in the process. Terrible things happen in the world, and I’m sorry World, but there’s not always someone to blame.
Mental illness often reveals itself in the late teens and early 20s, and it’s often genetic. It takes a terrible toll on patients–they go from functioning in the primes of their lives to becoming isolated, lost, and removed from the world that they know. Imagine for one minute that you’re schizophrenic. Voices from inside your own brain tell you things–they’re so real that your brain’s auditory centers actually light up as if they’re hearing things. They tell you terrible, horrible things, 24 hours a day. That you’re a terrible person, that the police are coming for you, that you’ve done something terribly wrong. Want to know why schizophrenics so often are wearing headphones or earplugs, or are singing to themselves? They’re trying to find some way to drown out the voices that speak to them all day long.
These people don’t need our judgment and punishment, they need our compassion and help.