I don’t like to compare tragedies like these because I feel every experience deserves its own coverage without all the fluff of other stories. However, I would like to talk about mental illness for a moment. It always amazes me how mental illness is treated and how the sick respond to that treatment.
Nikolas Cruz went into a school in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 and shot up a school that he used to attend. He killed 17 and wounded 14 others. He rode in an Uber to the school and went into the school; pulled the fire alarm so that the students would start rushing out into the hall; and started firing. The Mayor of Broward County Florida said that Cruz was dealing with mental health issues, but he wouldn’t elaborate any further, except to say he received treatment and stopped. The family he lived with was under the impression that the only issues he was dealing with was depression because he never showed any anger. However, he had been in trouble at school on numerous occasions for fighting.
Adam Lanza went into a school where his mother worked in Newtown on December 14,2012 and killed 26 and wounded 2 (counting only students and staff … not counting his mother at home that he killed before leaving the house and his suicide after the shooting). In the aftermath, they learned that Lanza suffered from Depression, Anxiety, Asperger’s syndrome, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (all of which are controllable with proper medication).
The problem in the nation today is not gun control … it is how we deal with mental illness. Trump, right out of the gate on this last shooting starting preaching (every speech he gives sounds more like preaching to me) that it wasn’t guns, it was mental illness. To a point, he is right, but what has he done to help this situation? Obama would also speak about mental illness in the midst of tragedies such as this … again, what did he do about it? Please understand, I am not saying we need more background checks on mental illness to purchase guns … as a matter of fact, I am not even referring to gun control or any aspect of it. My focus is on mental illness and that solitary aspect of one’s life.
We all must deal with mental illness today. We have war vets coming home with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); we have family members and friends that are addicted to drugs and alcohol; and we have older loved ones being diagnosed with dementia. It’s out there people and whether you admit you are dealing with it or not, you are … or you’re not, and in that case, you are one of the ones in the tragedies merely waiting for the next catastrophe.
Let me give you a small history lesson. Mary Ann Todd Lincoln, wife to President Abraham Lincoln, suffered from a mental illness all her life that was diagnosed as a cerebral palsy after her death (but this was back between 1818-1882, medical knowledge wasn’t that advanced yet). She was a very unpopular first lady; but I imagine that was because of the mental illness (which was really Cerebral Palsy) she suffered from. People also probably shunned her because of her use of over the counter drugs that contained opioids and alcohol (which is a very common form of treating mental illness in the 19th century). How quick people back then were to judge.
I have another one for you, what about Albert Einstein? He was an absolutely genius … but everyone around him thought he was mental retarded. He too was shunned (which is probably good, because he had plenty of time to come up with the theory of relativity and focus on philosophical science).
My point is this, they shunned Mary Ann Todd Lincoln in the 1800’s and they shunned Einstein in the early 1900’s. Still today, in the 21st century, we are afraid to deal with people who are mentally ill. It is almost like we are going to catch what is wrong with them if we get to close to them. How we deal with them is so vitally important to the outcome. Lincoln went on to marry a President. Einstein went on to discover the Theory of Relativity. What was the difference? Could it be that they had more support than the mentally ill today? Maybe the 18th and 19th Centuries weren’t “throw-a-way societies”, where everything and everyone is disposable.
Rosalyn Carter is the only First Lady that has every tried to get something done about mental illness while her husband, Jimmy Carter, was in office and beyond. We need more people to stand up and change how we deal with them. This is one part of the system that needs a major overhaul of reform. We need more beds available. We need the police to be willing to haul people to the hospital when a loved one calls the police and says, “Please take them to the hospital, they are sick, they need help”. Instead, right now, if you call the police on a loved one that is acting “crazy”, most likely, that person will spend that night and possibly more in jail. The police will charge them with unruly conduct or whatever; just to get them out of everyone’s way at that particular moment. Why not take them to the hospital first and have a 10-13 done on them? Why not find out what the problem is and search for a solution? Because, that would take too long and no one has any time for that.
One thing I thought was interesting when comparing Newtown and Parkland, was how the shooter carried out his rampage. Adam Lanza in Newtown started at home with his mother, the only person he lived with. Nikolas Cruz started and finished at the school, and he saw everyone he lived with that day: his host Mom, host Dad, and host brother. Lanza was in mental health treatment since he was a young child; whereas, Cruz only dabbled in mental health treatment. Adam Lanza committed suicide after the attacks; whereas, Cruz was caught an hour later and confessed to the shootings.
Could it be, Lanza felt like his mother was judging him? Were there things that she done or said to him that made him kill her first? His mother worked at the school where the shooting took place, is it possible she showed more love and concern for those kids to Lanza, than her own son who needed her? I’m not victim blaming, but I don’t think all crime is a crime of evil … sometimes, I think a person is pushed to their wits end and society as a whole must suffer the consequences. Is it possible, that he wanted to save her from all the heartache of what he was about to do? Unfortunately, we will never know, but there might be things we can carry away from this.
Nikolas Cruz went straight to the school to start shooting people. Witnesses say that he kept asking people where his host brother was or had anyone seen him. The law community believes that it was because he wanted to make sure he didn’t get caught up in the cross fire. That is how much Cruz cared about the people that took him in when no one else could handle him. What did they do differently? Was it the fact that he felt accepted for who he was when he was at home? He didn’t feel judged and was given free reign to feel the way he was feeling at any given time. There has to be a difference here and I have to believe that that difference is what will prevent future catastrophes from happening. Cruz stayed in trouble at school. He was getting into fights and getting suspended and expelled. The student body thought he was a “odd”. In a lot of the news reports, you can see where someone in this environment might have felt judged … almost bullied.
Have we became a society that doesn’t have any time for anyone else? We don’t care how you are feeling today … “speak your business and please move politely to the left or right out of my way.” How many more mass shootings, school shootings, will we have if this kind of attitude keeps up? The song group 4HIM sings a song called, Back to The Basics Of Life. In that song, they talk about getting back to God and getting closer to HIM. Personally, I am agnostic, but I can see the message they have. Years ago people didn’t fire guns unless they felt threatened or harmed. Today, we live in a society where the only one we are concerned about is ourselves. No one in life matters any more. We have mothers walking through grocery stores with earphones in, music blasting, and a kid pulling on their pant leg trying to get their attention. We have teens, and adults in some cases, that need someone to be there for them, and when they look around, there is no one there. I am a tough person and I have said many times, I don’t need anyone … but what if one day I did. Oh, I have plenty of people around me that would in a heartbeat be there for me … I really don’t know what I would be capable of doing if I felt all alone … and then judged for how I was feeling. If you are honest with yourself, you too know what I am talking about.
It is all in how we make the mentally ill feel that could be all the difference. For the ones that truly need help, we need to get them a hospital where they and people around them can be safe. There are not enough beds for the mentally ill today … no funding to put them in those beds … and the ones that are available, are to expensive (let’s face it, not a lot of mentally ill people are able to work … why, because they feel judged … thus the phrase, “going postal”). So, you sit there on your social media, on your phone to your congressmen and senators, and you just yell it from the roof tops if you want to that these guns are killing people … in the meantime, I will be sitting here on my social media, on my phone with my congressmen and senators, and yelling it from the roof tops we need reform. Let’s see who gets what done first. Most likely, to pacify your request they will make another small minute change to the gun control and within a very short few months, another catastrophe is bound to happen. Why? Because we will still have people treating people the wrong way and people feeling cornered with no where else to turn. Whereas, if they were to pacify me and my rantings, we might squelch one attempt at a mass shooting by nipping it in the bud.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. It has taken me longer to write this one than anything I have written so far, but then again, I feel very compassionate about this subject.