Giving a Voice to the Silence offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Schizo-Affective Disorder and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mental Illness and Violence are not related

One False Move
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There is the assumption that everyone with a mental illness is or will become violent, but it is most commonly used as an excuse for what someone has done.  In turn it adds to the ever-present stigma that comes with a diagnosis of mental illness.  

According to research done at Oxford University it was found that two of the most serious psychiatric disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - can lead to bouts of delusions, hallucinations and loss of contact with reality; however, these conditions are not an indicator for potential for violence.  In research done with more than 20,000 people in 2009 showed that the probability of violence was greater in those with who were abusing drugs and alcohol, then those with a mental illness.  Mental illness is more often used to explain violence and is over reported by the media with blatant false information.  These reporting’s make it nearly impossible to change the impression of the general public.  Heaven forbid people should be responsible for their own actions.    

Everyone has a tendency to be violent given the right circumstances, so to blame an illness is incorrect. Knowing how the brain works in these instances is crucial.  My dad was a paranoid schizophrenic who refused medical care; he used drugs and alcohol instead - in theory making him a triple threat in the area of being violent (according to the research and the general public) in reality; he was only a danger to himself.  Becoming a recluse he died alone in his bathroom of a massive heart attack.    

We have become a society of blaming  others or incidents for what we do.  It is rarely our own fault.  Look in the news and you will see celebrities who when caught in adultery immediately claim they have a sexual addiction and are seeking treatment. Really??  How about being honest and stating the truth, you can't be faithful and are looking for a way out.  Nearly anyone in a high-profile job or having celebrity status immediately turns to the mental illness genre for the reason for their actions.  Since we tend to idolize these people we immediately believe it is ok and everyone jumps on the band wagon.  What this does to those who truly live with these illnesses, it undermines there condition and hopes for recovery and becoming an accepted member of society.    

To put things into perspective soccer fans are more likely to be violent during a soccer match, but the person in general would never be seen as violent, but simply a fan.  This is true, as a soccer parent for 14 years, the game itself and the parents/fans watching can become very volatile.  It is a high pressure, emotional game that is taken very, very seriously.  In reality, statistics show that 1 in 14.3 million people will be killed by a person with schizophrenia, while you are three times more likely to be killed by a lightning strike at home.    

One of the worst things is to admit being mentally ill so it is kept quiet, and we suffer in silence because if anyone found out, we know we would be ostracized.  The general public would be surprised at the number people they associate with each day with some sort of mental illness, including the two most serious disorders, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  Before you judge someone, make sure you know who they really are, what is truly behind their actions and how you may be able to help them. 

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