Friday, December 14, 2012

The Underlying Issue

The events of Sandy Hook are truly, truly horrible.  I'm having trouble even formulating words and thoughts about the atrocities that took place.  My heart breaks for the parents of those twenty children, and for the families of the valiant adults who, no doubt, tried to protect the innocent lives.

Social media is on fire right now with talk about gun control.  That tighter gun control could have prevented this.  That now is the time for increased gun control.  That increased gun control is the answer.

But what I do not hear anyone talking about is mental illness.  I have to believe that the man who did this was mentally ill.  Because if he were not, he was soulless and evil, and I cannot believe that a person like that actually exists in this world.  In this country, we do not have adequate health care for people with mental illness, especially severe mental illness.  The largest clearing house for people with significant mental illness in this country is prison.  We do not have adequate inpatient facilities to treat our mentally ill.  The inpatient facilities for children are rumored to be rampant with sexual abuse.  At least 25% of homeless people are mentally ill.

This is the time to look at how we are supporting those with significant mental illness.  What treatments are available?  What is out there?  Advocates like Pete Earley and Susan and Michael Schofield are fighting because they were forced too--their children have mental illness.

When someone is not connected to society due to lack of empathy, psychosis and delusions, a law about a gun will not deter them.  And if a gun is not available, they will use a knife.  Or a bomb.  Or a chemical.  Most serial killers do not kill with guns.

In 2007, over 41,000 people were killed in automobile accidents.  In that same year, 12,000 were killed in homicides with guns.  Another 5,000 were killed by law enforcement in legal interventions.  About 700 were accidental discharge deaths.  Cars caused more than twice the amount of deaths than guns caused.

We don't need tighter gun control.  We need more help for people with mental illness.  If this case, along  Aurora, Tuscon and Virginia Tech do not illustrate that, then nothing will.  Too many lives have been lost.  77 innocent lives in those four events, plus the four lives of the mentally ill individuals (as well as those wounded, but who survived).  Let's not fight about gun control.  Let's fight for proper mental health care so this does not happen again.


3 comments:

  1. Great post, Kate. There is some underlying problem that we haven't heard yet. Was this his mother's class? It makes me wonder what his relationship with her was, if it drove him to kill "her" kids.

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  2. As I was writing this, they are starting to mention possible Asperger's or Autism, severe impairment of social relationships. There is speculation about schizophrenia, but no confirmation about any of it yet.

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    1. There has been no scientific link between aspergers, autism or any other ASD and criminal violence. It is important that people understand that. People on the spectrum are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence.

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