Los medios de comunicación contra las personas con problemas de salud mental

MELBOURNE – James Holmes, acusado de abrir fuego el verano pasado en una sala de cine colmada de gente en Aurora, Colorado, no tenía antecedentes penales, pero había estado yendo al siquiatra con anterioridad. Adam Lanza, sospechoso de asesinar a su madre y matar a disparos a 20 niños y seis empleados adultos de una escuela básica de Connecticut antes de suicidarse, nunca había tenido problemas con la ley pero se le había diagnosticado un “trastorno de personalidad”, así como el problema del desarrollo conocido como síndrome de Asperger. Anders Behring Breivik en Noruega, Jared Lee Loughner en Arizona, Seung-Hui Cho en Virginia… la lista de asesinos en masa que se definen por sus enfermedades mentales suma y sigue.

El hecho es que decidir matar al azar a un alto número de personas inocentes refleja una mentalidad profundamente trastornada que podría ser señal de una enfermedad mental. Sin embargo, contrariamente a lo que la gente tiende a creer, esto no significa que los enfermos mentales tengan tendencia a ser peligrosos o violentos. Esta creencia, y las noticias que la alimentan, refuerzan una estigmatización generalizada de las personas con problemas mentales, elevando su sufrimiento e impidiéndoles participar plenamente en la sociedad.

La percepción que tiene el público del riesgo de violencia asociado con las enfermedades mentales no se corresponde con los hechos. Por ejemplo, en Estados Unidos cerca de un 42% de los adultos cree que es probable que un chico con depresión sea peligroso. Pero, según la Asociación Siquiátrica Estadounidense, las personas con trastornos mentales, cerca de un cuarto de la población, cometen apenas de un 4 a un 5% de los crímenes con violencia. De hecho, el riesgo es pequeño, si bien es cierto que es más probable que los cometan si no reciben tratamiento o abusan del alcohol o drogas.

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