Friday, January 18, 2013

The news cycle

I don't pay that much attention to the news cycle because a lot of it seems to be about specific incidents which aren't really that important in the scheme of things. How does the number of deaths from the Newtown shootings (or similar shootings) compare to the number of deaths from car accidents or suicide? Not much I bet.

Mainly, it seems like these stories are just a cue for the public debate to turn to a particular subject. Like when Aaron Schartz died, that's our cue to talk about open access, because you know that's what everyone else is going to talk about. Which is fine, I guess.

It all seems kind of silly to me though. My boyfriend pointed out that the Newtown shooting was our cue to talk about gun control and mental health, while Aaron Schwartz' suicide was our cue to talk about about internet activism. But this is all backwards.

Mental health care is clearly an effective response to suicide, and probably not an effective response to shootings. In fact, by associating shootings with mental health, we stigmatize mental health problems and discourage people from seeking care when they need it.