For sure, we are all still in shock and greiving from the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. I watch a lot of cop and law shows, and there is plenty of death, but I always simply think of it as fiction. When something truly tragic happens in the world like last Friday, I find myself completely stunned. It’s honestly hard for me to believe that people exist who can commit such haneous crimes. I’m just not sure how to absorb it. However, the last few times, I keep coming back to some of the same conclusions.
Yes, I agree with those who pipe up for tougher gun laws. Yes, I absolutely believe that these people needed Jesus in their lives. But where I feel we truly fall short is the mental health issue. Weapons of some sort will always be available to those searching for them. But it is vital to reach these people in their hearts and in their minds before they decide to reach for a gun.
I’ve heard the mental health issue brought up in conjunction with several of these massacres, but it’s more in the fact of the gunman struggled with a mental health issue. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone talk specifically about diagnosis or treatment of mental health issues, and I feel that’s a shame. It seems that still today, this issue is still too taboo. Its time we wake up. The statistics are against us. They are too large to ignore. As long as these people are suffering with no one to help them, the pain will rise to the surface somehow, someway.
We need to be able to understand and become more compassionate to these people who are hurting so desperately. We need to know how to recognize the signs, and get them the help they need. It begins with those closest to them—friends and family. While yes, some of these behaviors come out of left fiield, I believe there are some which probably do not. We’ve all been in situations before where we could look back and see red flags. These behaviors could very well be the manifestation of thoughts and feelings that have been boiling underneath for years. True, some may also not want help. And in those cases, it may be more prudent to warn an authority figure as a precaution. And several of these gunman have been bullied. I wonder if people were there to help them recover or stand up for them. I wonder if anyone could’ve at least reported them to the police before it was too late. I wonder why getting them help is too shameful or too intrusive. I wonder how much we really care.
I have an awesome group of friends. I’m beyond thankful for them on a daily basis. There are many reasons why, but one of those is that many of us have been through counseling, pyschologists and psychiatrists, and we are not ashamed to talk to each other about it. We somehow found the strength to ask for help when we needed it most. And we are all better for it. It is not taboo for us. It is part of who we are. In fact, several of my friends have even gone on to get degrees in counseling in order to help others. I have no doubt that if one of us tried to go off the deep end in some way, the rest of us would interceed. Thats what friendship and love does.
I hope that more people will begin to see the need and benefits to exploring mental health. On my local news last Friday, the anchor woman said there had been 125 mass shootings since Columbine. I couldn’t believe that number. It was so much higher than I expected. I remember, probably like many of you, exactly when and where I was when I heard about Columbine. It will forever be burned in my memory. I remember praying for nothing like that to ever happen again. I’m so very sad at how far we’ve come.
So, yes, let’s create tougher gun laws. If we are Christians, let’s tell those who are hurting about our Saviour Jesus. But let’s also learn to recognize and deal with mental illness as a society. If we don’t, we will only be treating major wounds with band-aids.