When U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others were wounded and six persons killed on January 8, news media soon reported that the 23-year old responsible for the shooting had shown symptoms of mental illness since high school.
NAMI spoke out—to help shape media coverage and educate the public. In an initial press statement . NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick pushed back against the stigma that unfairly associates mental illness with violence and raised issues for the news media and government authorities to pursue. They focused on the degree to which mental illness may have been a factor and failures in the mental health care system.
Thanks in part to NAMI’s efforts, news coverage by Jan. 11 started to focus on the state of mental health care—and ongoing state budget cuts. Besides Fitzpatrick, NAMI Director of Policy and Legal Affairs Ron Honberg, NAMI Arizona leaders and others spoke out in over 70 major television, radio and newspaper interviews, where they were either quoted or shaped coverage. NAMI’s voice appeared on CBS News, CNN, C-SPAN and in USA Today, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, to name only a few.
Links to just a sampling of NAMI-shaped stories or interviews appear below. In addition, a broader compilation can be reviewed in sequence on NAMI’s Twitter feed .
Approximately 50 percent of Americans believe the tragedy is the result of the failure of the mental care system. NAMI intends to build on that awareness in seeking to stop devastating budget cuts in state mental health services.
Please join the effort to help the millions affected by mental illness. Send an e-mail now to state legislators. NAMI remains dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by mental illness.