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Not all violence comes from mentally ill people

DEAR EDITOR:

People must think carefully and speak responsibly when discussing the news to advance civilization.

It is important we do not conflate people who have mental illnesses with people who commit acts of violence. This is a mistake that happens too often, especially when discussing the current events in the news. Individuals with mental illness are no more violent than the rest of the population. Past violent behavior is the best predictor of who is likely to harm others.

There is already a stigma surrounding people suffering from mental illness, and they deserve better treatment and consideration. Ignorance and misinformation about mental illness makes seeking help even more difficult for those who need it by perpetuating untruths. When discussing acts of violence, quit assuming the perpetrator was mentally ill. There are plenty of troubled people, mentally ill and mentally unstable individuals who do not hurt others.

You probably personally know at least one person with a mental illness. Furthermore, you likely encounter many individuals with mental health problems on a regular basis, and most of them are reasonable community members. They are equally deserving of the same dignities as you.

Human beings can be incredibly complicated. I’m sure it is difficult for us to accept that kind, seemingly moral members of the community can behave in malicious ways and carry out heinous crimes. In order to understand why people are committing acts of violence, we cannot make assumptions about their motivation.

It is imperative to have an open mind and be willing to learn. A random act of violence is evil; it is immoral. We do not have all the answers. Right now, this is what I know to be true and understand: There are people who do good things and those who do bad things, and people who do both. Which are you?

My point is this: It is unfair and irresponsible for us to presume violent criminals are mentally ill individuals. Past violent behavior is the best predictor of who is likely to harm others.

MOLLY ESTES

Newton Falls

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