The senseless killings at Virginia Tech were deplorable and raised great consternation about the security of many campuses. While the media was quick to express their sympathy for the violent acts that claimed the lives of 32 people, they acted just as quickly to categorize the perpetrator as diabolic, full of enmity and mentally ill. The first two inventive statements may be indicative of Seung-Hui Cho’s personality, but to label him as mentally ill fuels the negative perception that many have of people with mental illnesses. Not to dismiss the fact that Seung-Hui Cho’s was mentally ill, but there are varying degrees of mental illnesses, which run the gamut from depression to schizophrenia. While some mental illnesses prevent individuals from living normal lives, others can be managed with medications and counseling, which helps individuals maintain a sense of normalcy. The media’s labeling of the perpetrator as mentally ill, but not being specific about his illness, not only further distorts the image society has of people with mental health problems, but also engenders and perpetuates stereotypes of people living with mental illnesses as deranged, impulsive and unstable.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert_palmer/20/