I am writing to express my concern regarding the editorial cartoon published in the April 15 edition of the Oracle. The cartoon, entitled, “American Suicide Bomber,” featured a drawing of an individual labeled as one with “mental illness” and holding a rifle.
Recent years have seen an increase in the number of individuals with invisible disabilities (including psychological conditions) on university campuses. Unfortunately, there have also been significant tragedies on campuses across the country.
As an advocate for those with both visible and invisible disabilities, I grieve for the victims of recently reported shooting tragedies. I also grieve for any University student, faculty or staff member who struggles with a psychological disability. These individuals face not only their disabling conditions but also the burden of stereotypes such as those indicated in this cartoon. Mental illness rarely equates to danger to self or others. In fact, it is far more likely for those with psychological disabilities to be victims rather than perpetrators of violence.
Cartoons such as “American Suicide Bomber” contribute to the stigma and lack of support associated with having an invisible disability. Individuals with hidden disabilities and those seeking support for psychological conditions deserve dignity not ridicule and stereotypes. I encourage all members of the USF community to re-examine their assumptions about those struggling with “mental illness” and to find ways to be advocates and sources of support for our fellow community members with invisible disabilities.
Deborah A. McCarthy
Director, Students with Disabilities Services