Secret Service Report on Mental Illness and Mass Shootings Is Spectacularly Unhelpful

[Content Note: Gun violence; disablism; mental illness stigma; toxic masculinity. Video may autoplay at link.]

Kevin Johnson at USA Today: 64% of Assailants in Mass Attacks Suffered from Symptoms of Mental Illness, Secret Service Report Finds.
A striking number of suspects linked to violent attacks in schools and other public places last year were stalked by symptoms of mental illness and nearly half were motivated by real or perceived personal grievances, a new Secret Service report has found.

An examination of 28 attacks, which claimed nearly 150 lives and wounded hundreds of others — from Orlando to Las Vegas — also found that more than three-quarters of the assailants engaged in suspicious communications or conduct that raised concerns from others in advance of the assaults, according to the report due for release Thursday.
I have so many questions. Starting with: WTF does "stalked by symptoms of mental illness" mean? And also: How many of them had a history of domestic violence? More? Less? Does anyone doing this sort of analysis even care?

I also have concerns:

As I just wrote last month:
The erasure of women is one of the most pernicious and enraging pieces of misogyny in any patriarchal space. But the erasure of women, specifically the erasure of mentally ill women, in this particular construct is comprehensively contemptible. Not only is it misogynist and disablist, in service to notions that abet gun violence, but women are routinely accused of being "crazy" in every conceivable way and for every conceivable reason in every other aspect of our lives.

We are "crazy," we are "insane," we are "hysterical," we are "emotional," we are "irrational," we are every euphemism for mentally ill under the sun, we are "psycho bitches."

But when it comes to mass shootings, suddenly women are so uniquely sane that our failure to have the mystery mental illness that causes "people" to pick up guns isn't even remarkable.

We're crazy when men need us to be crazy to avoid accountability and we're sane as the day is long when we don't want to talk about toxic masculinity or access to guns.

I am a woman with mental illness, and I flatly refuse to be disappeared in service to this narrative. I exist. And so do millions of other women with mental illness. If mental illness is the primary issue, then why is only men who are picking up guns?

As I also wrote just last month:
I am not certain whether social services did everything allowable under the law (or if, critically underfunded, they even had the resources to do so) to deter Cruz. I do know, however, that it's entirely possible that Cruz simply didn't meet the criteria for additional attention and/or detention, because not all mass shooters are mentally ill.

Just circularly arguing, as many people do, that all mass shooters are "insane" because anyone who does such a thing must be "insane" doesn't make it so.

And, even if he is mentally ill, he still might not meet the criteria for any state intervention, by social services or law enforcement.

There's this pervasive idea that if, someone gets flagged, there will be swift and meaningful action taken "by authorities" to prevent that person from doing harm to others. But unless a detailed plot or actionable threat to harm others is uncovered, or some other illegal activity, detaining a person, no less indefinitely, is not lawful. Nor should it be.

Flagging can (and should) trigger an investigation, and it can (and should) trigger social interventions to provide access to any and all means of care. That's what "doing something" means.

And it seems quite possible that the police and social services "did something." Maybe everything they could [legally do].

So what we're left with is this: Perhaps the only crack through which Nikolas Cruz fell was legal gun access.

It's also not an argument that there's something inherently wrong with men. I'm not the one making that argument, when I point out that it is disproportionately men who pick up guns and kill people with them and argue we need to examine the culture in which they're socialized.

The people who believe there's something inherently wrong with men are the ones who argue that mass violence committed by men is just as unpreventable as natural disasters, and use that argument to justify doing nothing at all.

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