I think everyone has a reaction to the event that occurred in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011. Twenty -two year old Jared Loughner shot 19 people, six fatally! His actions prematurely took lives, shook the nation and caused government to pause and take notice. I’ve bore witness to a range of emotions – disbelief, anger, horror, hate, shame and even forgiveness. And some want to exact revenge, a scary notion. But what should we do?
It’s not an unfamiliar story. Remember April 16, 2007, the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung- Hui Cho, and Sergeant John M. Russell who shot service members at a stress clinic, to name a few. As the stories unfolded, we found out that these single instances that captured our attention were in fact moments in a chain of events, including the significant existence of an underlying mental illness. This most recent alleged gunman, Loughner, might be Schizophrenic; a mental illness that can present itself as threatening or non-threatening. This kind of illness is complicated and can easily be misconstrued. The thing is, generally people knew something wasn’t right, might have tried to intervene or not, and might not have been able to pinpoint exactly what was wrong. The lesson learned is that mental illness, if goes unidentified, unattended or unchecked, sometimes, people can get hurt, even killed. Fortunately, it can be managed if one could access and maintain consistency with mental health services.
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So we’re dealing with two issues, gun access and mental health services. And it begs the question should people with mental health issues have access to guns? This is a serious debate that warrants an urgent outcome. I’ll focus on mental health and services therein. It's a subject that can impact families, friends, communities etc. As mentioned previously, identifying mental defect isn’t always easy and if it’s acknowledged, there can be a stigma attached. This stigma can stimulate helpfulness or render people helpless. Hopefully, if the latter happens then a guide might be useful. Some may be aware of the signs and/or symptoms of mental disease so for those of you who don’t know you can refer to this short list:
- Change in mood
- Change in behavior
- Change in sleeping pattern
- Change in eating habits
- Change in functioning
- Change in social well being
It’s imperative to keep the individual’s normal disposition in mind so that a difference is notable and severe enough to be a cause for alarm. A more comprehensive assessment, a component of service delivery, is also advised.