Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) offers its deepest condolences to everyone who was impacted by the mass shooting that occurred at Robb Elementary School yesterday. We mourn the loss of those who were senselessly killed, and our hearts go out to the students, school personnel, families, and other members of the Uvalde community.
DRTx is the federally designated protection and advocacy agency for persons with disabilities (including persons with mental illness) for the state of Texas. We have a sincere concern that any narrative that attempts to put a focus on mental illness is unfairly stigmatizing to persons with mental illness. The notion that people with mental illness are a danger to the public is not supported by facts. Studies consistently show that people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violent crime, not the perpetrators of it. Singling out people with mental illness could put them at risk of hate crimes, similar to what happened in recent years with other minority groups who were incorrectly blamed for certain events by public figures.
Having a mental illness should not be associated with violent or criminal activity, and to say otherwise is irresponsible and potentially dangerous for individuals with mental illness. Before speaking publicly about mental illness, leaders and other influential public figures should consider increasing their knowledge and understanding of the topic. DRTx urges leaders to ensure all Texans are kept safe.