- Today's horrible event literally makes me nauseated.
- Mental illness carries a stigma that deters some from getting help.
- Guns shouldn't be banned in their entirety. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. And not stable ones.
I want to preface by saying that I work with children for a living and there's nothing about today that doesn't make my heart ache. I want to say that I am heartbroken not only for those beautiful little lives lost, but also for those children who endured that trauma and the lasting effects it will have on them. Anyone reading this knows my dedication is to children.
Having said that, I also want to talk about mental illness--and the stigma that this country has on it and the difficulty that stigma makes for others to get help for those in need and for those in need to recognize the importance of getting help. I don't know the details about the shooter(s) involved today, and though there's lots of speculation I don't think anyone else quite does yet either--but today I heard a newscaster say that the man was most likely "mentally defective" and it enraged me. If I could have come through the television (I so rarely watch) at that man, I would have. I think that's partially coming from a family where I deal with mental illness on a very personal level, but that's also working with children who have mental illness also. Mental illness is very real and prominent. It varies in seriousness. The media is known for painting a picture of what 'a risk' mentally ill individuals are and how hopeless 'treating them' are. They rarely encourage you to reach out to those in need.
There are varying degrees of mental illness. There are new diagnoses being added all the time. They're 'renaming' and 'rearranging' and 'listing symptoms' all the time. Think about it, right now if your doctor told you that you had an anxiety disorder, you certainly wouldn't embrace it, and even less often would share it with your friends over a lunch date. That makes seeking treatment less likely--it's not a widely discussed topic and no one 'wants' to need help. It's not like a sports injury or diabetes.
Continuing with my opinion: I understand that from a parent view (or those against guns), guns propelled this destructive tragedy. But guns don't kill, people kill people. And stability of a person has a whole lot of effect on the likeliness that someone would use that in the wrong way. If we're talking about control, we need to talk about controlling those with questionable stability access to guns, not limiting those who use them for sport or hobby. We need to talk about more productivity when talking about mental illness because it is common, very very common. 1 in 17 according to the NIMH and that's probably slightly outdated statistics. In addition that's really encompassing the people willing to talk about it. And I'm doubting that this shooter was stable or that his mental illness went without signs or symptoms.
For those of you who are parents-- I feel for you. I couldn't picture sending my kid to school in the foreseeable future. And I don't know how you encourage them that their school is a safe place. School employees and educators, I can't imagine how you wouldn't have apprehension. As I'd mention before, I've worked with medicated severely mentally ill youth whose "hit list" I've wound up on--but there's always been signs, someone to assist me, someone to observe. Don't stay silent when you see cries for help. Don't stay silent when you're gut tells you something. Err on the side of caution.
And kiss your babies. And make room for one at your dinner table who is so patiently waiting for kisses too!