Recent school shootings highlight America’s problem with facing up to mental illness.
Ignoring such a serious problem will only result in the loss of more young people.
Mental health remains an American taboo. According to the Census Bureau in 2007, there were 15.8 million people with mental disability in America ages 5 and older who were not institutionalized. The U.S. population that year was 301.6 million people.
Even after repeated shootings in schools — another one Thursday in Atlanta — the question arises whether guns should be permitted on school campuses. It’s simple logic. More guns on campus raises the chances of the wrong people gaining access to guns, which, in turn, increases the chances of school shootings.
Yet Americans tend to believe that having a gun will protect them, but guns do not guarantee safety. President Robert Zeigler said at spring 2013 convocation that he believes more guns is not the answer. He further explained that teachers should be teaching, not policing.
According to Sun News in Ohio, on Feb. 27, 2012, T.J. Lane, a teen shooter killed three male students and wounded three other students at Chardon High School. He has been indicted on three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault.
Lane said he did not know why he fired the shots, but he suffered from unspecific psychosis that included symptoms of schizophrenia.
On Dec. 14, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, laden with ammunition, walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and shot 26 people, including 20 children ages 6-7. Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism, but it does not link to violent behavior.
Lanza’s mother, who he also killed that day, knew her son had problems, but did not secure the family’s legally owned weapons. Instead, she left them in an open closet.
Experts say Lanza may have had a psychotic break but are still evaluating fluid from Lanza’s brain for any illness or drugs that could have triggered the massacre.
On Jan. 10, Bryan Oliver, another teen shooter, injured two students in a classroom at Taft Union High School in Taft, Calif.
Last year, he threatened to kill students after he was bullied. One of the students reported him to the principal, resulting in a suspension for several days. Previously, Oliver injured a third student in an altercation.
These shootings could have been avoided if these teen’s symptoms had been heeded, and they had received the help they needed. Don’t ignore any signs you see in others — or yourself. Many conditions are easily treated with medication or therapy.
Sure beats murder and suicide.