Statement on Newtown Shootings by the Campaign to Repeal Mental Health Laws December 22, 2012
As a group made up predominantly of people labeled with psychiatric diagnoses – people who may identify as Mad, as psychiatric survivors, as people with psychiatric disabilities or as clients of mental health services – we respond both to the horror of the shooting of 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, Connecticut, and to the danger faced by our community should the national debate continue in a direction of scapegoating and repression.
Many of us have been victimized by violence, and we know the desire to have an explanation, to bring the perpetrator to justice, and to make sure that it never happens again. Many of us have experienced the violent side of psychiatry in particular: being handcuffed and taken away by police when we have done nothing violent, being tied to a stretcher in an emergency room, being drugged against our will with haloperidol and other neuroleptics, which are named as a form of torture by the United Nations, being deprived of our memory by electroshock “treatment,” being guinea pigs in a vast uncontrolled experiment with psychiatric medications that shorten our lives and often cause us to feel horrible in new ways rather than giving relief, being disbelieved when we complain about physical health problems or unwanted effects of the drugs, and so much more. Many of us started our journey in the mental health system as children. We know that more of the same medical-model, coercive mental health system is not the answer to any social problem or to any human need.
Inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which prohibits forced psychiatry and requires equality before and under the law for all people with disabilities, we have organized the Campaign to Repeal Mental Health Laws. We call for abolition of civil commitment and forced treatment laws, as well as the insanity defense and incapacity laws. We follow the CRPD in calling for support to be made available that respects the person’s autonomy, will and preferences, rather than removing a person’s right to exercise autonomy and decision-making.
We emphasize that any laws that discriminate based on disability do not protect any community from violence, and have an opposite effect by intensifying a climate of fear and suspicion of those who are perceived as “different.” The national debate needs to focus on actions that reduce the climate of fear and violence as a whole, including a ban on categories of weapons that are used for mass killings and have no legitimate role in hunting or self-defense.
 UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1986/15, paragraphs 118, 119; UN Doc. A/63/175, paragraphs 40, 47, 62-63.
 See Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Thematic study on enhancing awareness and understanding of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UN Doc. A/HRC/10/48, paragraphs 47-49.
 Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (authoritative monitoring body for the Convention), Concluding Observations on China, UN Doc. CRPD/C/CHN/CO/1, paragraph 22. See also Special Rapporteur on Torture, UN Doc. A/63/175, paragraph 50.