Home > Rant > What No One Wants to Talk About Regarding the Aurora, Colorado Shootings

What No One Wants to Talk About Regarding the Aurora, Colorado Shootings

This was not just a tragedy for the people who were shot, injured and killed, this was a tragedy for the attacker.  People being interviewed are now coming forward saying they knew he was, at best, troubled.  I am sick of politicians- and even our President- pontificating about decisions, morals and “evil”.  This is a healthcare problem.  Shootings will continue until mental health services become a priority.

People can speculate all they want to about decisions and value judgments, but those concepts are not relevant to mental illness.  Mental illness cannot be subordinated by logic, ethics or willpower.  If resolving mental illness were that simple, no one would be mentally ill.  Mental illness has the power to subvert, skew or delete what a majority of us would hold in consensus to logical or appropriate.  Mental disorders are not personal deficits; they are serious medical problems.  Mental illness takes many forms, including violence in the form of attacks on others or suicides.  These wind up being the the rare instances where we pay attention to the fact that mental illness exists at all.

Our nation stigmatizes mental illness, shuns people with mental illness and portrays them as weak, deficient in capabilities rather than afflicted with illness.  Even people with health care insurance that properly covers mental and emotional care get run through an inconsistent, fragmented medical system, risk being drugged with a plethora of pharmaceuticals that are random / frequently experimental / ineffective, all of which usually brings financial ruin upon middle class or lower economic families.  There is little to no care for people without insurance.  People do not care about this problem, since it is portrayed as and held to be a personal deficit; the burden of coping with illness is wholly upon the mentally ill person.   It’s our fault that we allow these atrocious social views and disregard the need for comprehensive public health care.  It’s easy to get weapons and extraordinarily difficult to get help.  The Columbine shootings happen, followed by that boy that shot his principal, the Virginia Tech massacre, the Northwest University shootings and now a movie theater in Colorado.   A violent event flares up in the media, becomes the horror show of the moment and nothing changes.  No one wants to draw a cause-and-effect relationship to these situations, unless they want to militarize social settings or alter laws.  We need to address the underlying problem of a lack of care.  Chicago is shutting down and has shut down city-funded mental health care centers, just like other parts of the country.  And history will repeat itself as denial leads us to believe in evil and isolated incidents rather than patterns and prevention.

We need to reach out to people in distress where we can and advocate for real change so that deranged persons do not think violence – toward others or themselves- is a viable response to their distress.  We need to change the culture and regard people with mental illness as deserving of compassion and support as those with other severe illnesses like cancer.  This is a healthcare problem.  Shootings will continue until mental health services become a priority.  

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Categories: Rant
  1. July 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Yes, you are correct to point out Chicago and/or private donors spending money on gentrification arts when the city has or plans to shut down 6 of its 12 public mental health clinics. A city of over 3 Million people and that is supposed to work? That’s supposed to be enough to help people? I am all for art and public art projects but not at the cost of the needs of people with illness. I’m not one of the self-aggrandizing artists. I would rather we all draw on the sidewalks in chalk than see people suffer for want of health care.

    My friend’s younger cousin participated in the protest of the clinic shut down on the Southside, around the 70s blocks, but she did not come in to the protests the next day when people stayed in the overnight vigil inside and were hauled out in handcuffs. So I’m watching the news on television and watching something like sixteen people are being hauled off in handcuffs for needing mental health care for themselves or a loved one. The cousin wondered if the amount spent to arrest, jail and prosecute the non-violent protesters probably would have kept the clinic open for a whole year. James Holmes’ life is destroyed as well and he will be shown little compassion. How sad that he was intelligent to be in a graduate program for neuroscience and now his life is destroyed. How sad that he is so young and his life is destroyed.

    I am already sick with the media sensationalism and how people are “stunned” by the violence. Frankly, I’m surprised gun attacks do not happen more often; America is ass deep in guns and has next to nothing for healthcare let alone mental healthcare. Any large grouping of people is a target for lashing out like college campuses and concerts. If anyone radically destabilizes and/or rapidly decompensates, coming across weaponry is easy. If you were in a crisis, what are you more likely to come across? 1) readily available comprehensive care, 2) a unicorn, or 3) a gun. The answer is “a gun”. If you go to the emergency room and they assess you need inpatient care, assuming you want to submit to a prison-like environment and all its ramifications including the stigma, humiliation, disempowerment and the inadequacy of care, short of having a friend to confide in that can keep you from going over the edge mentally that’s the only source of care I can think of available – at least to a degree- around the clock. That presupposes the person in distress can function logically enough to make that choice and it’s a pretty shitty option: lock up in the whack shack. Nothing is going to change the fact, legal or illegal, there will always be loads of weapons around. “Gun control” exists on paper only. Statistics can be made to say what anyone wants them to based on how they are extrapolated. We need to make care as available as weaponry. Even going back to the shooting death of John Lennon and other celebrities and people still demonize the attackers, regard them as alien aberrations rather than cause and effect relationships, and do not address the underlying tragedy of a lack of available care. I don’t believe any system of care could be 100% effective but I have a hard time imagining an America where care is as prolific and as affordable as weaponry.

    http://www.npr.org/2012/04/27/151546358/closure-of-chicago-mental-health-clinics-looms

    http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/04/17/chicago-closing-half-its-mental-health-clinics/

  2. July 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Maybe I just grew up in the 80s, but can’t we start with a toll free help line? No charge, just call if you are considering going on a shooting spree, turn in your weapons, people will give you counseling, no one will judge you or get you in trouble, everything will be confidential. You know, like that program in Chicago where people can abandon a baby at hospitals with the baby-in-a-hand sign rather than use a dumpster.

  1. July 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm
  2. July 27, 2012 at 10:17 am

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