How About Our Mental Health System?

You can’t turn on the news today without hearing about the debate on gun control. With our nation divided between regulating the sales of firearms and our second amendment, where we stand in regards to laws in the coming months is still up in the air. One thing that is not being talked about is the state of our mental health system.

Regardless of your standpoint on this issue, to not acknowledge the issue of mental health would seem illogical. When looking back at the recent headlined cases of gun violence, such as the cases involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s, the shooting in Aurora, Colorado where a man man shot up a movie theatre and, most recently, the case where young elementary school teenagers and staff were killed and/or injured by a gunman in Newtown, Conn. You can start to see a trend in the mental health system’s absence and how it may have played a role whether the court systems acknowledged it or not.

In Arizona, the gunman, Jared Loughner, besides injuring Congresswoman Giffords, took six other lives. It has been said that Loughner, through his high school years, often had verbal outbursts in class and complained about voices in his head. In college, Lougher was asked to obtain mental health clearance records for college, which he did not do, and, instead, dropped out of school. Despite these signs of mental illness, he was able to purchase a gun in Tuscon, Ariz. at a sportmens warehouse.

In Aurora, Colo., James Holmes, walked into a movie theatre dressed up as a character deemed to be similar to the one in the movie, Batman, and began shooting. During this time, he was seeing at least three mental health professionals. Coworkers deemed him depressed. While in custody, in a holding cell, he made several attempts at harming himself.

In Newtown, Connecticut, Adam Lanza, walked into Sandy Hook elementary school and began shooting. He took the lives of, as well as injured, many kids and faculty. Lanza’s case reports are mixed. Reports say he had a mental illness, other say it’s inconclusive. What is known is that his mother previously reported he was depressed and knew he had gruesome images of murders in his possession. Despite this, she never took him to a doctor or acknowledged the possibility of her son’s incapacity to possess a firearm – something that, most may agree, is a logical step to take.

With all these cases taken into context, it is easy to argue that these individuals are not mentally stable. So, with that being said, despite the investigations surrounding the Lanza case, why isn’t our health system stepping into the discussion? Background checks are another idea that gets thrown around, but why isn’t the media paying attention to the mental health argument?

The media is all about siding with regulating gun sales or protecting our second amendment. Looking into bettering our mental health system might not solve the issue, but it would certainly cut into the problem. Lives would be saved and a good chunk of horrific crimes incompetent criminals commit could be prevented.

Until the root of the problem is addressed, which is the health of the individuals, then it’s undoubtedly known, that the problem of senseless killings, as a result of assault weapons, will not be reduced. A simple conclusion can be derived from all of the chaos and debating that has ensued over the past few years. Crimes without motives are a potential red flag for mental health issues. Unmotivated crimes that leave people wondering why something wasn’t done, especially with the presence of signals before the crime, has to put our mental health system into question.

—Domenic Marcella

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