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Trump cites mental health in shooting, no mention of guns

The flag above the White House is lowered to half-staff for the shooting victims of a mass shooting in a South Florida High School, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump initially referred to the recent mass shootings as a “mental health problem.” This does a tremendous disservice to anyone who has a mental health diagnosis. Many people view a mental health diagnosis very differently from a physical diagnosis; therefore, the person who is diagnosed remains quiet.

A mental health diagnosis is no different from having cancer or a heart issue. Think about it. You wouldn’t shun a friend who shared their recent diagnosis of cancer, so why shun a friend who shares he or she has depression, anxiety, etc.? People who have the courage to seek treatment are to be commended, not shamed or shunned.

President Trump’s “mental health problem” umbrella justification perpetuates the stigma of mental illness. Many families have been touched by the challenges of treating mental illness or tragedies of a family member who “fought” his or her mental illness and lost the battle. My brother believed he had no other choice and died by suicide in 1984.

Consider the many levels of diagnosis of mental illness. Does that automatically lead to the purchase of a weapon and the shooting of as many people as possible? Of course not.

I challenge Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, as well as Rep. Ann Wagner, to join in funding better mental health care and include mental illness treatment that will provide a better quality of life and perhaps help save Americans’ lives.

Jennifer Snider-Robben • Oakville