Consider the violent shootings just over the past few years: the Aurora, CO movie theater shooting, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the Virginia Tech shooting, and the shooting at Texas A&M (in which a lifelong family friend of my family's lost her husband), only to name a few. All involved shooters with mental illness.
Every time a tragedy such as Newtown, CT, Aurora, CO & College Station, TX occurs, I wonder if our country is going to heed the call. It is my hope and prayer that those in power will soon wake up to the ultimate consequences of continuing to deny the impact of mental health issues on our society and recognize this as a topic worthy of funding and attention. The reality of mental health issues and the impact on our nation should not be swept under the carpet, viewed as shameful to address and the first on the budget chopping block.
As written by the Harvard Medical School, research suggests that adequate treatment of mental illness and substance abuse may help reduce rates of violence. They also state,
"Indeed, as with psychiatric treatment in general, medication treatment alone is unlikely to reduce risk of violence in people with mental illness. Interventions ideally should be long-term and include a range of psychosocial approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy, conflict management, and substance abuse treatment. Of course, this sort of ideal treatment may be increasingly difficult to achieve in the real world, given reductions in reimbursements for mental health services, ever-shorter hospital stays, poor discharge planning, fragmented care in the community, and lack of options for patients with a dual diagnosis. The Schizophrenia Patient Outcomes Research Team (PORT) guidelines, for example, outlined the type of multimodal treatment necessary to increase chances of full recovery. Most patients with schizophrenia do not receive the kind of care outlined in the PORT recommendations. Solutions to these challenges will arise not from clinicians, but from policy makers."
Children went to school and lost their lives, families went to a movie theater and died, a man was walking down the street was shot and killed, service men and women return from war so traumatized they choose to take their own lives. At the core, all related to mental health. How many more lives must be lost? Should the economic freedom for insurance companies to make excessive profits and the right to bear arms be allowed to strip us from the basic American freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Those who lost their lives in senseless shootings were not afforded this basic American freedom so that others could make larger profits and have the right to bear arms. So my question is, do those rights supersede the right to live?