BE INFORMED: Mental Illness is a Disease

By: Lisa Brown

So, I figure by now, everyone has heard of the recent tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. A man named Adam Lanza went to Sandy Hook Elementary school and opened fire. He killed approximately 26 people, which included 20 children ranging in ages from 5 to 10-years-old. Teachers, the school’s principal and also the school psychologist were also among the murdered victims. This type of extreme tragedy had never happened in Newtown ever before. The last time there was a school shooting massacre of this degree was back in 1999, at Columbine High School in the suburb of Littleton, Colorado. School shootings are always the worst thing imaginable that could ever happen. There have been quite a few of these kinds of incidents lately. A few years ago in February of 2008, Steven Kazmierczak shot multiple students at Cole Hall on the Northern Illinois University campus. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University located in Blacksburg, Virginia was another; it happened April 16, 2007. Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks, two hours apart from each other. He then killed himself. Cho was actually an English major there and had previously been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder.

In high school and middle school, he did receive therapy and special
education. However, due to federal privacy laws, the university was
unaware of his previous condition. A professor there had suggested he get some counseling after he was accused of stalking two female classmates in 2005. He was also declared mentally ill by Virginia special justice and ordered to seek help after the investigation.

In a lot of these school shootings, the killer always ends up committing
suicide after they have completed their destruction. For some strange
reason, that’s been a typical and common pattern. The sheer thought
of these attacks that I just listed, the fact that they even happened is
frightening and unfortunate. It’s absolutely horrifying that any person would ever even think or plan to go into a school building or anywhere for that matter and just begin shooting randomly. It begs the question, why? The first thought that usually goes through your mind after you hear about such a thing is, “d**n, this person is really sick. He or she needs help. He or she is evil and needs to be put to death. Why, why, why?” When things like this happen, we often times don’t know what to think and are usually at a loss for words.

This is especially true of the loved ones left to attempt to have some sort of peaceful existence, after their family member has been ripped away from them in such a lude, barbaric and atrocious manner. How do you go on ever? Is there such a thing as finding happy again and moving on or getting over it? Part of me doesn’t really think so. I’m not saying you won’t ever heal or be happy again at some point but I don’t imagine that happens quickly at all. But, God and time does heal all wounds, even ones that are very deep.

But, getting back to my point, if you notice, there’s this weird pattern with the fact that all of these men usually wipe themselves out once they’re done wiping out everybody else. Do you ever wonder what’s going through their minds after they pull the trigger and bullets are literally flying out of their gun at helpless victims, most unaware that they were about to take their last breath? It’s unfathomable, to say the least. What about when they turn the gun on themselves? Do they plan the elaborate murder suicide out to the tee? I think so.

Now, first off, how does someone even get to the point of planning a
murder suicide mission? That’s not normal. Normal people don’t do that.
We all get angry, sad, hurt, betrayed, rejected and depressed sometimes
but walking into a restaurant, a bank, a mal,l or for God sakes a school and opening fire, usually isn’t what most do to blow off steam. I mean, really? C’mon. Two words: mental illness. Yep, that’s right; this is obvious mental illness at its worst. This is not to say that every mentally ill person you come across is waiting for the perfect opportunity to blow your brains out, but there are some that have extreme difficulty dealing with their illnesses and horrible things occur unfortunately.

The incident in New York the other week where the man was pushed onto
the train tracks and crushed by the train, the guy who pushed him was
mentally ill. He actually walked up to him and started the argument before pushing him onto the tracks. Mental illness is real. I think some people don’t take it seriously enough and also, a lot of sick people are forgotten, neglected and pushed by the waist side. This is one reason I was so mad when Mayor Rahm Emmanuel decided to close down a few of the mental health clinics in Chicago. It was such a dumb move on his part, in my opinion because you have a lot of people in this city who are suffering and they need their meds, their therapist and psychiatrist. How could you and why would you shut down their neighborhood mental health clinics? That’s just a recipe for disaster waiting to happen!

I think people need to pay more attention to the people in their lives. If you have a relative that acts weird or you see certain behavioral changes that are not typical of their normal personality, you need to say and do something. You need to react before it’s too late. This is especially true for your children, you have to watch and monitor them closely. If they’re changing, acting different all of a sudden, acting out or failing academically in school, become withdrawn or disconnected from people, check them out and see what’s going on with them. In other words, stop ignoring the signs. The smallest signs tell the biggest truths that something is off, so please, be aware and not oblivious.

The truth of the matter is, unfortunately, we sometimes can never tell when tragedies such as this one will strike, but there are precautions we can try to take in order to cut down on things. We can be proactive. Meanwhile, my heart and prayers go out to those grieving families in Connecticut. Hopefully they will find the strength to go on. We have to save lives here- there have just been too many that have been taken unnecessarily.

For more information about mental illness and ways to be an advocate or
receive help for you and/or someone else, go to http://www.nami.org/. Nami stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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