I want to applaud the stance the Daily Herald editorial board took with the Aug. 22 editorial, "Should we really be laughing at this?"
While validating the sadness of any violent act, and acknowledging that the victims deserve justice, you also stated that most violent acts usually have an underlying, deeper issue, and it is often mental illness.
The fact is, most mentally ill people do not carry out violent acts, but, of course, the violence is what makes the news.
In my opinion, the most powerful statement in the editorial was that "None of this is funny. These people should not be a source of amusement or bemusement for any of us."
The challenge for us, as a society, is to educate ourselves about mental illness, and to consciously make an effort to change how we refer to people disabled by this very difficult disease. My experience has been that people who make the mentally ill the subject of jokes are usually uncomfortable with the subject, or uneducated about it. Our choice of words can be just a habit, and as such, can be changed.
In a way, it is a type of bullying, and continues to promote the stigma attached to this illness. As you so poignantly pointed out, people who face each day with the many aspects of this disease, diligently take their medications, even with difficult side effects, and try to find their place in our world, hold jobs and raise families, deserve better. And so do the families who love them.
Lets all start with ourselves. Learn about mental illness, and then join in fighting the stigma that still permeates our society.
Suggested sites: nami.org (National Alliance on Mental Illness); TreatmentAdvocacyCenter.org;
or your local county Mental Health Council.
NAMI Kane County-Dundee