Horrific scenes in Sydney this morning as a man described as ‘deranged’, ‘mad’, and ‘unstable’ loses his life along with two of the hostages he had taken prisoner.
Almost as soon as the siege started commentators speculated upon the gunman’s mental health and that’s a shame.
Because in order to understand the world and come to terms with wicked behaviour we have grown accustomed to explaining events like this tragedy in terms of mental illness and in so doing we confuse issues that require care, kindness and support with things that are rightly the providence of our criminal justice system.
NOVA works with many hundreds of people who experience very significant problems with their mental health, including schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. In the almost 25 years that we have provided assistance no person working with us has committed a significant crime.
Instead of criminality the overwhelming emotions associated with such persons are sadness, anxiety shame and loneliness.
They need care and help.
Assigning a label of ‘mad’ to people like the evil person that has committed this horror does no service to the genuinely unwell of our society, rather such actions casts many poor folk in the same role as criminals.
I won’t name this evil man, just encourage everyone to remember that sometimes, sadly, there are some people who do wicked things that aren’t mad, they are just plain and simple bad.
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