School shootings in a society afraid of mental illness
What do you do when you hear about a tragedy like what happened yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut? Do you just keep going, ignore it so you don’t have to cope? Do you start preaching about gun control? Do you start pointing fingers at school security? Are you going to say the problem lies in video games?
Well, I don’t have the answers and I don’t know which questions to ask, but I do know we can start with prayers of healing for all those impacted by the shooting. In addition to seven adults who were shot and killed, one being the shooter, twenty children were shot and killed. Twenty children between the ages of 5 and 10 had their life brought to a violent end only 11 days before Christmas and during the light festival of Hannakuh. The shooter had also slayed his mother at their home prior to going to the school which brings the death toll to 28 people.
Every child at the Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning will never be the same. Every family in that community will be affected by this tragedy for the rest of their lives. I don’t believe they will blame guns, security or video games because eliminating or fixing any of those things would be subjective and it won’t change the fact that the shooter who invaded their lives on a chilly Friday in December was mentally unstable.
We live in a society where many psychiatrists feel pills can fix most mental health issues. This same society is split between those pill poppers they prescribe to and other people who would never even put down their walls of pride to consider seeing a doctor for mental health reasons. All parties in these scenarios are missing the bigger picture.
To live in a more peaceful world we all need to understand mental illness is real and can be treated, but not just with a pill. We also need to swallow our pride and accept there are true mental health issues and they cannot be ignored or swept under a rug, When you suspect someone isn’t coping well when you suspect there are issues with a person you need to trust your instincts and report those red flags to a counselor, a crisis hotline or the police. Don’t run from it, don’t say it’s not your problem, don’t act like it’s contagious, because chances are there were people in this shooter’s life who did see red flags.
Mental illness can be treated and it shouldn’t be any less important than other health issues. Furthermore, people need to learn to be comfortable enough in their own skin to be willing to openly talk to each other. If you think a child is showing signs of mental illness it doesn’t mean that their parents have done a bad job, it doesn’t mean they are a bad person and religion has nothing to do with it either.
“Our hearts are broken today.” Our President spoke about the shooting with great emotion and sincere compassion. “The majority of those who died were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” Obama said. “They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” the president said of those who were killed. Throughout his briefing to the nation he made several long pauses and wiped tears from his eyes.
If you are like me and/or President Obama then you also found tears in your eyes as news of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting continued to unfold. My stomach was upset and my body shook as I saw the images of screaming parents and crying children on the tv screen. Above all other things right now I just want to express my deepest of sympathies to that community and to the families who have lost someone due to this tragedy.
Many prayers for healing to all.