Alexandria, VA – The following is a statement from Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America:
“For the second time in a week, we’re reading and watching news coverage of a mass shooting. One witness to yesterday’s incident at the King Soopers grocery store said it seemed like everyone there imagined they’d be in a situation like this one day. This is unsettling, to say the least. We cannot accept this as the new normal. We cannot live in fear of our everyday errands. When we do, it is damaging to our collective mental health.
Exposure to acts of violence and the resulting trauma lead to long-term mental health impacts. Those who witness violence and those whose loved ones are taken by violent acts need mental health supports. Providing these - long-term and at no additional cost to those affected - should be the norm. Not because we want to normalize violence, but because we value life and see it as our duty to support those who are affected by it.
The families of the 10 people who died will forever be changed. So will the lives of the shoppers who were forced to flee to the sound of gunshots. So, too, are all those in Boulder and throughout the nation who - as journalists, public safety officers, food service workers, health care workers, and so many others - are reliving their own past traumas in the reports of this horrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all today.
The suspect’s brother has reportedly said he believes the suspect suffered from a mental illness. He described the suspect as “very anti-social” and paranoid. We cannot conflate mental illness with violence. It’s stigmatizing. And it sets us back decades. There are millions of people in America living with serious mental illnesses who have never had a violent thought in their lives.
Instead, we need to look at the predictors of violence and address them by intervening early. It’s the only way to stop this from happening every six days.”
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, go to MHAscreening.org to get screened and access tools and resources. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.
About Mental Health America
Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. Learn more at MHAnational.org.