It seems that lately when you turn on the television there is a “Breaking News” report. It isn’t just an attack overseas or race related in the United States. More times than I would like to hear the violence is often attributed to someone who is “mentally ill”. Sometimes the News Stations will actually give the diagnosis of Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder. According to my recent count Bipolar is in the lead. Even though Bipolar Disorder comes in many different variations, that part never seems to be discussed. The fact that a person can and probably does have a coexisting illness like substance abuse or another underlying mental illness is somehow kept out of the discussions also.
To make matters worse we have the recent Scientific Study published by JAMA Psychiatry. It was made available July 13, 2016. The Study was actually done by Dr. Seena Fazelm, University of Oxford. The study uses 2.8 million subjects from the years 1958 to 1988. The Study focuses on the range of triggers for violent acts in patients with psychotic disorders and those with a psychiatric diagnosis.
There were six triggers used to examine the response of the participants.
- Exposure to violence
- Parental Bereavement
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Unintentional Injury
- Substance Abuse
34,903 Schizophrenic individuals participated in this study. They had the highest incident for violent crime after being exposed to a trigger within a week.
29,692 Bipolar individuals participated in this study. They came in second for having the highest incident for violent crime after being exposed to a trigger within a week.
The rest came in last with a low rate of incidence.
Let’s disregard for a moment that the study’s time frame does make a difference. Medication, Therapy, and many other circumstances have changed since 1988. I can’t imagine a worse time period to study the mentally ill than 1958 to 1988. There are many documentaries that you can watch to prove this. Cropsey comes to mind.
Another issue is grouping Bipolar Disorder as a whole and not breaking it down like it should be. Even though I have 2 Schizophrenic family members I’m not as sure of the differences. They both had extreme paranoia at times. Both thought people spoke to them that were not there and both hallucinated at times. It seemed similar to me but they were brother and sister and that could’ve been why. My apologies for not doing more research in that area. Neither one of them were ever violent that I know of. My Uncle Jimmy could have had to be because he was often homeless and in an area where there was often violence. I really don’t think so. Due to his height 6’4″ and his look I think they would’ve left him alone.
I also would like to know what the difference would be in people with PTSD faced with the same triggers. Isn’t it almost the same? If I had gone through a traumatic event, which I have, and a week later something or someone pushes my mind back to that event and I feel cornered or threatened wouldn’t I think I was defending myself? Or preventing anything similar to the previous trauma from happening again?
Are the mentally ill more vulnerable to these triggers? Probably. What isn’t explained is what makes them so vulnerable. We are not a group of people, hiding in our basements with an arsenal of weapons,plotting ways to destroy “normal” lives.
The majority of us just want someone to say ” I hear you, I might not understand all of it but I’ll still be here”. I want my family to hug me again, to talk to me like they used to, to invite me to family outings. I want to see my nephews who are a part of me because they come from my twin sister. They were always so happy to see me they would run as fast as they could to jump in my arms. It’s been months since I’ve been allowed to see them. No one will tell me why.
The only one being hurt is me. I’m a number and word in black and white. I’ve usually only hurt myself and I have not done that in many years. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about it. For some reason when I think about it my headache goes away and I calm down. I know it isn’t healthy and I’ll find another way.
Right now with an election coming up, we need to do what we can to change the perception of mental illness and violence. We have to stop being used as scapegoats. At some point the medical community needs to be held accountable for it’s part.