MEDIA

Joe Scarborough Makes Desperate Plea To Talk About Mental Health In America

06/19/2015 10:14 am ET | Updated Jun 19, 2015

Joe Scarborough made an impassioned plea Friday morning to address mental health issues in the United States.

The MSNBC host was referring to the horrific shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, this week, which left nine people dead. The alleged shooter is a young white man, Dylann Roof.

The act at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has been characterized as a hate crime, an act of racism and an act of terrorism. But Scarborough said that while the tragedy was clearly racially motivated, it was also a result of mental health issues.

"He looks unstable," Scarborough said of Roof.

"We as a country have to put our arms around mental health," he added.

Scarborough held up a list of all the recent shootings that have occurred in the U.S. where mental health was an alleged factor, including the incident at Columbine High School in 1999, the one in 2012 at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

"Ninety-nine percent of them are disturbed people with mental health challenges," Scarborough said. "If you're going to talk about guns -- which we should have that debate -- let's talk about mental health in America. Let's have that debate!"

While the details of what exactly motivated Wednesday's killings remain unconfirmed, many media critics have hit back at the mainstream media's tendency to characterize white shooters as mentally ill.

"Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’?" professor Anthea Butler wrote in a column for The Washington Post on Thursday.

The Huffington Post's Julia Craven wrote: "When white people go on shooting sprees, their actions are frequently attributed to mental illness and, thus, they’re not considered fully accountable for the harm they’ve inflicted... Racism is not a mental illness. Unlike actual mental illnesses, it is taught and instilled."

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