OK, I was bound to weigh in on this. After I stopped crying last weekend, I got frustrated. I got angry at all the news coverage, making such a horrible thing glamorous to other fractured minds out there. I got angry at half truths and insensitive reporting. I got angry at those who hijacked a tragedy to support their own political views. But mostly, I got angry that this kid (20 is still a kid) got to the point of doing this.
I have not kept my beliefs about mental illness a secret. This year, I have become a champion. I have stood on my soapbox and yelled as loud as I could. We need better mental health services for individuals and their families. Sometimes, a condition is so bad that it does cause a fractured mind. I have compassion and empathy for those suffering from mental illness. I also know enough to know that without treatment there are those who are dangers to themselves and/or others.
When you look back at others shooting tragedies there are some commonalities. If you look back hard enough, you will find someone (a teacher, a doctor, a relative) who tried to say that there was something wrong. The individual in question needed help. The problem is there is so much red tape to go through. Once you get through the red tape, there is the expense and the timelines imposed by insurance. Our country seems to have moved away from believing in therapy to believing in medication. Yes, medication helps, but there is a need for therapy. Every interview with the neighbors of these shooters has the same quote "He was so quiet, he kept to himself." Of course he did. He was trying to cope in a world and with situations that he could not. The parents of these individuals cannot always be judged either. To be the caretaker of someone with a mental illness is very isolating. As a mother, you can't compare your experience to mothers of children without a mental illness. Often times when you are the caretaker of someone with a mental illness, you structure your life around that person. You loose sight of what a "normal" life is like.
Our country has to have a conversation about how to help those in need. There needs to be a better support system. There needs to be therapy to help those who are ill learn to cope and those who love them how to support them. I know that I will keep pushing this conversation whenever it is appropriate. I will be loud and forceful if need be. Above all, I will speak up when it is needed.