-University of Texas, 1966
-Columbine High School, 1999
-Virginia Tech, 2007
-University of Alabama, 2010
-Bay District School Board, Dec. 14, 2010
These are just some of the examples of public tragedies in recent times. When something as horrible as the shooting in Arizona takes place, it's almost natural to question why it happened and what steps could have been taken to prevent it. It's as if the public must go through the five steps of the grieving process before we can move on. And it's natural to want answers.
We want closure. We have an innate desire to answer questions, rather than leaving them open-ended.
Have you ever heard a word repeated so many times, it's lost meaning? The tragedy in Arizona has become a catalyst for political tirades, with many screaming and few listening.
Political statements are not responsible for Jared Loughner's actions; I'm not buying it -- partly because the conversation has become inaudible.
Where is the discussion on mental health?
Marshall hosted a National Alliance on Mental Illness conference not two months ago, Dec. 1, 2010, in which the basics of mental illnesses were discussed; yet there's little discussion in our own community regarding this. NAMI also works to provide support groups for those who have mentally ill family members, and advocates changes in legislation.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1.1 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have schizophrenia.
Though one percent sounds low, that amounts to 2.4 million American adults in a given year.
It affects men and women equally, often first appearing in men in their late teens or early twenties.
I had a friend in college whose father was paranoid schizophrenic. When she arrived in biology lab Monday mornings and I asked how her weekend was, she often responded, "Oh, my dad tried to kill me again. But it was okay. How was yours?"
More often than not those who have psychosis or seem to be extreme cases of schizophrenia cannot be committed to a treatment facility without their consent. They live in the community, on the streets and walk through Walmarts.
The Arizona shooting is tragic. It was a senseless and disgusting act, and I hope something good can come out of it, though it's hard to imagine what that might be.
But rather than focusing on what should be taken away, such as gun rights, because some speculate the killer was influenced by a political statement, let's re-open the conversation about treatment facilities and funding. Let's discuss why state mental hospitals have been closed down in the past 30 years and what kind of affect it had. Let's stop the shouting matches and start finding some real-world, tangible solutions to the problems we all agree we have.
Here is an interesting article I recently came across in "Marshall Missouri 1839-1989." It was taken from the Irrepressible Conflict of Dec. 1, 1887, according to the book, regarding the death of R. E. Lee Fletcher. Fletcher was shot and killed at McGinnis' Saloon...
"The revolver was held in the hands of Bill Wright as he pulled the trigger that sent the lead ball on its fatal mission. This much settled, we next inquired who were his accomplices. Whiskey was the culprit but McGinnis sold the whiskey and thus he was an accomplice. But he had bought from the city the privilege of instigating such crimes. Marshall, a city of churches, if not a city of religion, is a partner in McGinnis' sale and last year made as its share a profit of $1200 from the six saloons operating last year. So the city of Marshall is also an accomplice as they granted the privilege of carrying on a business which they knew was frequently the cause of murder. But remember you as people elected the council which formed this unholy alliance with the saloons because the people who elected them wanted it done. But you say you cannot pay for our gas and water without the saloon tax? No wonder our gas lights are dim and the water stinks, when they have to be paid for with blood money."
--Apparently using guilt to persuade the general public for political gain hasn't changed much in the past 123 years.
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