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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Mental Health Advocates Reject Blame for Gun Violence Epidemic

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Monday, July 24, 2023   

Mental health experts say people with psychiatric diagnoses are being unfairly scapegoated for the gun violence epidemic in Maine and across America.

Studies find there's more news coverage of shootings in which there's been an allegation of mental illness, which can perpetuate the falsehood that people with mental health challenges are more prone to violence.

Dr. Jack Rozel, professor of psychiatry and director of Resolve Crisis Services at the University of Pittsburgh, said it's an easy stigma to perpetuate.

"The data is pretty clear that in the United States, about half of us live with a psychiatric illness, right?" said Rozel. "So, it's actually quite common to live with a psychiatric illness. It's not 'those people.' It's us, together."

Rozel said research shows about one-quarter of public mass shootings are tied to mental illness, but there are often a number of risk factors which lead someone to commit violence.

Every country has residents with mental illness, he said, but only America experiences the equivalent of one mass shooting per day.

Experts say blaming mental illness for gun violence also distracts from the larger risk of guns and suicide, which accounts for nearly 90% of firearm-related deaths in Maine.

Rozel said it's peoples' easy access to guns which often leads to tragedy.

"And while we certainly have tremendous needs to improve mental health services," said Rozel, "pouring more money into mental health isn't necessarily going to reduce the violence that's out in our communities to any significant degree."

Rozel said he regularly encounters patients who are fearful to disclose their mental health challenges should they, too, be labeled as potentially violent - and even involuntarily hospitalized.

He said the media should rely on experts, not pundits or politicians, when covering mass shootings - so the public can better understand risk factors for violence and how to prevent it.





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