To the editor:
In the aftermath of a truck running into a bike path on the West Side, President Trump shot off a tweet.
Maybe he wanted to distract attention from the Russia probe.
Maybe he was just being Donald Trump.
This one, however, hit home with me. The president chose to label the guy driving the truck as “sick.”
It is very possible that he is. I really don’t know. But choosing to use this word on this most-loaded of occasions has an effect.
Mental illness is a real thing. It affects one-in-four Americans over the course of their lifetimes, leads to 41,000 suicides in this country annually, and shatters countless lives — both of those afflicted, and those who love them.
When the President of the United States, perhaps the single-most influential man on the planet, chooses this horrific event to employ a word that broadly describes the mentally ill, he can’t help but shape the terms of the discussion about this most human form of illness.
According to “PBS Newshour,” 98 percent of the mentally ill — including those with schizophrenia — are not violent.
Rather, they are trying to get by as best they can, often with inadequate resources and support.
Instead of throwing them in the stew with the most inhumane and cowardly form of murderer, wouldn’t it be better to be looking for ways to better support them with increased mental health services and funding?
President Trump may not put a lot of thought into the 140 characters he shoots off on Twitter, and maybe we just don’t have any better way to describe these kinds of criminals. But words, I fear, have power. And in this case, President Trump’s choice did the mentally ill no favors.