Tag Archives: Harambe

Harambe the Gorilla and Mental Illness

By Marvin Ross

Like many, I was saddened to see Harambe shot. Was he helping the toddler as the initial photo may have suggested or was the toddler in danger as the subsequent video suggested? I have no idea! But I am astounded that there are seven petitions out there for people to express their dismay. One petition is approaching 500,000 signatures as I write this while another is getting close to 200,000 signatures.

That’s a lot of people who want justice for the gorilla.

Sadly, there is far less of an outcry when someone with untreated mental illness gets shot by the police. According to the Washington Post, a quarter of those shot by the police in the US were mentally ill. In Canada, according to a recent documentary on police shootings, 40% of those shot by the police are in a mental health crisis.

Here is one example of Toronto Police shooting a poor man in his hospital gown after he ran out of hospital https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbWUnzvAgb4

Shootings of those with untreated mental illness is only one small part of the injustices suffered by those who develop a mental illness in our society. In Canada, 38% of incoming prisoners suffer with a mental illness. Their offences often result from a lack of proper treatment. In Ontario, 40% of prisoners in solitary were locked away for 30 or more straight days. This is twice the limit permitted by the UN in its Nelson Mandela Rules. The main reason for the solitary was mental health or special needs.

Homelessness in Canada is accounted for by mental illness or addiction in between 23 and 67%.

In the US, a recent report found that there are 10 times the number of mentally ill in prison than in hospital. The consequences of not treatment, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center is homelessness, incarceration and violence.

And so few people care about any of this! Instead, we angst over one shot and killed gorilla.

To paraphrase Stalin one dead gorilla is a tragedy, a million maltreated and ignored mentally ill is a statistic.

Isn’t it time we showed some compassion for the mentally ill and gave them appropriate treatment and support?