This is difficult to write. I can’t even come up with an appropriate title because this is such a horrible event. Twenty six dead. Twenty of them small children, too young to know even to hide, as if it were possible. Six adults who tried to help and lost their lives in the effort.
How can a person do this? What sort of mental state rationalizes such violence? As many mental states as I have been in, I have never felt homicidal. (Suicidal yes, homicidal no.) I can’t imagine what makes a person do such a horrible thing.
He was crazy, they’ll say and eventually this will go down in the history books as another tragedy caused by a crazy person. If one crazy person can do this, then all crazy people must be capable of doing this. Put another check mark down for stigma.
Only 50% of people with mental health problems seek help. That means that half of those who need help could be a danger to themselves or others. Making mental health more available, affordable and less stigmatized could make a difference in the future. But it’s too late for the children and adults who have already been lost.
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook. Schools should be safe havens for our children. This is no longer the case.
The shooting in Connecticut seemed so unreal to me over the weekend. Distant, foreign, just like the Twin Towers had felt. But I substitute taught today and I talked with some of the students. None of them said they were scared, but you could hear it in their voice and see it in their eyes, there was concern. Could this happen here?
Of course it could. It could happen anywhere.
I was talking with one of the teachers about it today. He said Sandy Hook had all the same precautions that we take here (locked doors, little video cameras) but until society is ready to make the investment into serious deterrents, like metal detectors and armed, trained policemen in our schools, we are all at risk.
And it’s not just Connecticut. A similar plot in Oklahoma was foiled. A disgruntled teen planned to lure students into the gym, chain the doors and start shooting. He even planned to plant pipe bombs on the doors rigged to blow when the police arrived. At least he was caught and arrested before any of this could come to pass. Allegedly he was trying to recruit assistants in the lunchroom to help with his plans. Students turned him in to the authorities.
It’s a sad time for Newtown Connecticut and the world mourns with the victim’s families. While gun control is one issue on the table, mental health is a complex problem that needs to be addressed. I am glad to see that some attention is being paid to the problem, and hopefully this will open up new doors to understanding mental illness and new paths to treatment.