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Journalists Write About Mental Illness in the Wake of the WDBJ Shootings

In Virginia late last month, Vester Flanagan shot and killed WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward while they were live on-air. According to many reports, an employer ordered Flanagan to seek counseling and others have speculated about the shooter’s mental state.

The murder of these two journalists has sparked considerable news coverage about mental health issues. The National Center on Disability and Journalism has compiled some of those stories below.

  • NPR: “Is Gun Violence Due To Dangerous People Or Dangerous Guns?” Reporters take a look at possible links between mental illness and violent crime, and whether this should inform the nation’s gun control laws. Read more


  • The Washington Post: “Here’s one prominent Republican’s plan to curb mass shootings”  Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex) proposes the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, which would reportedly strengthen mental health background checks for anyone seeking to buy a gun. Read more


  • The New York Times: “Virginia Shooting Spotlights Riddle of Workplace Safety”   This story explores how employers struggle to balance keeping an employee’s mental illness private and keeping the workplace safe. Read more


  • Huffington Post: “No, Donald Trump, The Problem Isn’t Mental Illness”  Lindsay Holmes, HuffPo’s Healthy Living Editor, takes on Donald Trump. The Republican presidential candidate said of the shootings, “This isn’t a gun problem — this is a mental problem.” Read more


  • The Root: “On-Air Shooting in Va. Puts Focus on Race and Mental Health”    At The Root, one writer examines how race might fit into the conversation about mental health in the workplace. Read more


  • The Dallas Morning News: “Op-Ed: Armed and angry, the formula for gun violence” Columnist Jacquielynn Floyd discusses the difference between rage and mental illness. Read more


  • Palm Beach Post: “Mental illness remains taboo in American workplaces, society”  Is mental illness still shrugged off in American society? Read more


NCDJ’s style guide also provides information on writing about mental health. You can find that resource here.