GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Violence inside a Meijer store in West Michigan has put a renewed focus on mental health and the stigma that often accompanies mental illness.
Wyoming police say 57-year-old James Ivy stabbed two people at random inside the Meijer on Clyde Park Avenue on Monday. Information was released in court documents on Wednesday about his diagnoses of schizophrenia in 2015.
Dr. Jed Magen, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Michigan State University, explained that most people with that disease are not violent and are, in fact, more likely to be victims of a crime. He cautions against letting one person’s actions define everyone who might have a similar diagnosis.
“It goes without saying that it’s a horrible thing to happen for anybody. It’s horrible for both the victims and the person who perpetrated this, because…cases with people who have psychiatric disorders who may engage in violence…later, they’re just horrified by their own actions,” Magen said.
He pointed out that there is less violence in people with psychiatric disorders than there is in the general population, and that many of the people with those disorders who do commit violence are in prisons.
“We talk about the criminalization of the mentally ill. Some of those folks are, legitimately, fairly violent, and so you do have to be worried about those kinds of people. But in general, patients with psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, are really not violent…. when you see a story and see somebody who is, you begin to worry that that’s all schizophrenia, but it’s not,” he said.
Magen suggested thinking of it like any other condition, for example, diabetes. People who are diabetic sometimes have low blood sugar, which can cause fainting.
“Somebody might say, ‘oh maybe that happens to all diabetics. I’m really worried about being around people who have diabetes,’ or ‘I don’t want them in my workplace,’ So then, if you put that into context, this is not a real common occurrence,” Magen explained.
He added that it’s important to be sensitive to the victims and what they’re going through, and what the outcome may be. Some people come out of this just fine but some people don’t, and they may end up with post-traumatic stress disorder.