I am a retired family and ER physician who spent his entire career practicing in central Maine. I am concerned that the issue of mental illness in relation to gun violence is being misconstrued by many. While it is true that a small percentage of gun violence in those with mental illness is due to the very seriously ill, most is not.

There is a difference between psychosis and neurosis. When people talk of the “truly insane,” they often mean those with severe psychosis, such as the violent schizophrenic or with violent depressive disorders. These are a small number. Of more concern are those who are depressed to the point of despair or who feel persecuted. We need to be better at finding and helping those people to give them options for help other than lashing out with violence.

In terms of gun violence, doing this would help prevent some but not all of these events. We will never be able to prevent every evil in the world. We can work to remove stigma from mental illness and do better at providing emergency services. We need to show each other more compassion, understanding and acceptance. We have a shortage of health care workers for all services, this must be addressed along with the need to change attitudes.

I would not presume to suggest I have the solutions but submit to everyone that if we truly start to talk to one another, instead of at and past each other, collectively we have the answer.


John Garofalo

Belgrade Lakes

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