As yet another tragedy unfolds, I’m so appreciative that someone has finally been brave enough to mention the topic of mental health because that’s what it all boils down to: a mentally disturbed individual. Thank you for not being afraid to call danger by its name, Brave Republican Leaders. I know this is very hard for you, particularly with all the millions of dollars of campaign support you are receiving annually from mentally disturbed individuals. Thank you for not being afraid to call them out!
I’m equally grateful for the actual work you’ve already done in supporting an excellent mental health care system. It’s wonderful to see evidence of this and realize that you, Republican Leaders, are making real changes rather than offering mere lip service! Bravo! This is why there are always inpatient psychiatric beds available! This is why no one is ever waiting for 96 hours in an Emergency Room for treatment! Additionally, I applaud you for not being at all obstructionist when it comes to supporting access to affordable health care in general. Thank you! Still, you’re right that there’s always room for some fine-tuning.
Most especially, though, I’d like to acknowledge your main point: yes, speaking as a psychiatrist, I’d say we could definitely handle it. And by handle it, I mean preempt and end all violence. As is generally well-understood, physicians can fix everything! This is why your endocrinologist always gets rid of your diabetes for you, pronto, and why your oncologist can always cure you of your cancer. It’s really fantastic the tricks we have up our sleeves! This is why your cardiologist often says things like, “Don’t worry about all those bacon-wrapped fried Oreos you are eating!” So don’t even bother locking up your guns. In fact, get more of them! My advice: we’ve got you — don’t worry about it!
Some people say to me, “But, Dr. Psychiatrist, how can you possibly know? How can you predict? Isn’t risk prediction for relatively rare events notoriously difficult? Aren’t risk prediction tools for such events notoriously unreliable?” And my answer is: you’ve seen us depicted on television shows — we are magic! First, I will stroke my neat, gray beard while nodding slowly from a leather armchair. Then, I will study an inscrutable drawing you’ve made and listen as you recount your weird dream. After that, of course, I will predict the future. And if I see something I don’t like, or if there is just something a little funny about you, I will lock you up indefinitely and put electrodes on your head, and Nurse Ratched will give you some chalky pills to dry-swallow, and then someone will fly over a cuckoo’s nest or something. Because that’s EXACTLY how it works! Or, at least, we could decide to make it work that way. Because — good idea! — that would obviously be less of an infringement of people’s civil liberties than any other public policies we might implement!
Some people have said, “Well, yes, but what about the fact that mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of yearly gun-related homicides? What about the fact that people with serious mental illness’s overall contribution to violent crimes is only about 3%, and an even smaller percentage of this contribution involves firearms? Doesn’t the focus on mental illness here perhaps miss a larger, more obvious public health point while reinforcing stigma, which is, as we know, a barrier to mental health treatment?” To which, I respond: let’s not have a knee-jerk response by pulling out facts and figures here. Nor let us politicize this by taking, God forbid, any evidence-based action.
The real point is that, like my colleagues, I am infallible and all-knowing, and, yes, my skills as a psychiatrist are definitely just as powerful as your AR-15. So let’s not worry about any other systemic issues here, including but not limited to the fact that certain weapons (and no one’s naming any names here!) are about as easy to buy as a cheeseburger. Don’t worry about it! Just keep talking, blah blah blah mental health this, mentally disturbed that, because you and I both know that you are surely not avoiding mentioning something else. I mean, I would recognize that, right? If you were avoiding some other topic you didn’t want to discuss?? I would definitely know that because I am a psychiatrist.