There’s a lot of talk on both sides on gun control, after today’s devastating and appalling nightmare. I just hope that people realize that this goes beyond gun control. As I keep watching the news, the psychiatrists that they’ve now brought on to shed some light on some questions that are on many people’s minds, are echoing my very thoughts, my instant reactions. I’m no psychiatrist, but I speak from first-hand experience of dealing with someone who was mentally ill, and who was most likely violent because of his mental illness.
Along with the prayers and messages of love and condolences, there are also a lot of messages of hate and quick-to-judge comments filling up my Facebook newsfeed. Yes, this shooter was very sick—figuratively, and though not officially confirmed, I imagine quite literally, as well. I’ve been praying for a long time now, and I hope now after today’s devastation, that as a country, we turn to issues that really matter as far as taking care of our communities.
As I mentioned in my previous post, mental illness is not always blatantly obvious. Someone may suffer from severe mental deficiencies, and seem mostly normal on the outside. So, I think that the bigger issue beyond gun control and safety is an issue I fear may be overlooked by many. There is a strong need for more mental health awareness, education, identification, and treatment.
You think you know what a crazy person looks like, until you’ve actually met one, spent time with one, and really talked to one. I think a lot of the “crazy” people you see on the streets, are probably far less harmful, than the ones you have no idea are right under your nose.
The scary part is there are many people who go undiagnosed. So somehow we have to find a way to make sure, as I said, create more awareness, education, identification, and treatment. We have to find a way to efficiently take care of those with mental illnesses, so that we can also take care of and protect our communities.
So, I hope what people try to learn from today is what caused this particular individual to do what he did. Did something trigger his violent behavior, or had he previously displayed violent behavior? Was he diagnosed with some kind of mental illness? If so, what kind? What kinds of treatments had he had? What was he like as a child? As a teenager? Basically what I'm getting at is that there's a lot of things that everyone, that we all, have to consider if we really want to be proactive about keeping our communities safe.
Something really important to think about, are the two interviews that have been had with people who knew him. They both talked about a certain characteristic, but in different ways. What you get from both though, is that there was probably some kind of social disconnect in his brain. I think we sometimes overlook the “quiet” ones. You think they're not hurting anyone, so we don't need to worry about them. What I’ve come to learn from my own experience is that there is a difference between shy and socially inept. When someone is undiagnosed, but actually has a serious mental illness, you just don’t know what things you should worry about, because you have no idea that that person is in fact suffering from a mental illness. Sometimes the differences seem so subtle, but that’s why we have to pay attention. That's why paying attention to various factors, such as social skills and inclinations are so important. That’s why we have to look out for our friends and ourselves. We have to take care of one another.
I continue to pray for the children and families affected today, our nation as a whole, and I pray that those with mental illnesses get the care and attention they need.
A post on trauma, and dealing with trauma will follow this one. I know many parents will be, or are, struggling with how to talk to their children about what happened, so be sure to check-in later for things that may help you and your family.
BIG LOVE & HUGS