Saving our Country from Violence--When Will We Learn

Connitcut shooting from Chicago Tribune

I am watching the news coverage regarding the shooting today in an elementary school in Connecticut.  There were 27 confirmed deaths thus far of children, staff, and the shooter.  Chills run down my spine, I cannot stop thinking about how terrifying it was for the children, staff, parents, and the community.  I cannot even imagine what was going through the hearts and minds of all involved.  I am affected by this, as tears well up in my eyes, and I am far away in Illinois.

So many questions run through my mind right now.  Why a school?  Why children?  Why are there so many of these mass shootings all around our country?  Why, why, why!  I want answers to these questions.  The shooter, who was 20, killed himself after his rampage and was found wearing a bullet proof vest.  Why the vest? Could he have been born with a mental illness or is our society creating psychopaths who have no value for human life.

Whatever the reason, we, as a society, must to do something to stop this.  We all need to recognize mental illness and not be afraid to do anything about it.  If your parent, spouse, partner, sibling, child, or friend demonstrate any signs of depression, unusual anger, or a change in personality, you need to ask them if everything is okay because you care about them.  If you are worried for their safety or the safety of others, take them to an emergency room or call the police.  Do not be afraid to because they need help.  I ask my patients if they have had any changes in their mental health status such as depression,  thoughts of suicide or hurting themselves or others.  Many will not mention anything until I ask because they are embarrassed or afraid to say anything.  Once I ask though, they feel much more at ease  discussing it with me because I opened the door to talk and I showed that I care about them and their well-being.  Wouldn’t you rather play on the safe side and ask someone who you are concerned with how they are doing and if they need help?  I can not reiterate this enough, if you are concerned for their safety or the safety of others, take them to the emergency room or call the police.

I know our news is 24/7  now so we hear about everything at an instant; however, even 24 years ago, when news was reported much slower, our country still heard about random acts of violence.  Lauri Dann in May, 1988, who went into Hubbard Woods School and killed one boy and wounded 5 students. We now have shootings in elementary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, movie theaters, these random acts of violence are becoming more often and deadlier…enough is enough.

I used to think that violent video games, movies, television shows, and song lyrics never caused people to be violent.  I have to be honest, I have not looked at any recent research in this area; what I do know is that mass violence seems to be on the increase.    I do not want to make it unlawful to purchase these games or watch these movies; but, there has to be a balance.  My husband and I were very strict on which video games and movies we would allow in our house when they were young.  We did not care so much about the swearing; what we cared about was the violence.  We were not naive, we knew they occasionally played them at their friends houses, however, it was not daily or even weekly.  Can frequently playing violent video games, watching violent movies/television or listening to violent music  detach people enough that they no longer respect human life?  I do not know, all I know is that the popularity of these violent games/movies/television shows and music seem to coincide with the increase in the mass acts of violence.

My last point.   Our second amendment was proposed on 9/25/1789 and ratified on 12/15/1791.  In 1791, there were only rudimentary pistols and rifles that were single shot, very slow loading through a musket, and used a flintlock which jammed frequently.  The shots would only go about 300 feet.   I know there are many proponents to owning and having concealed weapons, including those that are automatic due to our second amendment right to bear arms; however, if our founding fathers were writing the amendment today, I wonder how different it would read.  Whether you agree or disagree with the second amendment, I know we all can agree that this was a heinous crime.   We can have all the security, gun control, preparedness guidelines, etc.; however, if we do not get those with mental illness help or have a better understanding why people perform these horrible acts,  no one will be completely safe.


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