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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Media narrative about gun violence is not based on the facts


From Psychatric Services, December, 2018 by Jeffrey Swanson

Since 2000, more than 1.5 million people in the United States have been injured by a firearm, and a half-million have died. This total surpasses the combined U.S. military combat death toll of World Wars I and II. Of these gun deaths, 59% were suicides, and 37% were homicides (1). Mass shootings accounted for less than one-tenth of 1% (2). 

Still, the national conversation about gun violence tends to focus on senseless rampages by troubled young men while public officials pay lip service to an oversimplified, gun-ignoring solution: “fix mental health.” 

The mental-illness-and-mass-shooting narrative, as curated by the media, can perpetuate public misunderstanding and impede serious, broad-based efforts to both prevent gun deaths and improve mental health care.

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