Newtown is what happens when the right to bear arms and pain left untreated collide. I read it all over Twitter and heard it all over CNN last night. To those who believe it’s a right to own a firearm I ask you about the rights of the people around you, the toddler that might innocently come across the weapon, the one who might get caught in the cross fire or the ones sitting innocently in a classroom doing Christmas crafts? What about their rights? I’m not saying this to sit proud on my Canadian high horse, we have violence, but you can significantly change the amount and severity of what can happen if you make guns harder to get. Then maybe in the case of Newtown there wouldn’t have been a shooter with access to THREE guns.
But my rant isn’t about gun control because I don’t know all the facts around it; I don’t live in that world. I’m simple enraged along with everyone else, with mixed emotions and just horrifying sadness for those children left behind who will have to deal with this event for the rest of their lives. What I do know is there was a twenty-year-old boy whose mental health was clearly untreated or mistreated for reasons unknown. What I do know is the current stigma of mental illness keeps and prevents people from seeking treatment. The shame of having to tell someone about their sadness, thoughts, or deep dark secrets has turned deadly. Our society has come to point where a mental health check-up should be just as important as your heart, liver etc. I personally think it should be mandatory. The brain is an organ and probably the most important one, but when it gets sick and gets to the end stages of the illness, it can be deadly. Whether you blame it on circumstances at birth, tragic events in childhood or the stress of being an adult in today’s world, it is one and the same if left to chance.
We need better resources, less stigma and judgment, and more motivation to seek out answers. Our doctors, nurses, police, and teachers (etc), need to be educated on recognizing the signs and knowing what to do about it. People have the right to be given basic information, phone numbers, direction, not just a prescription. Granted, medication may be necessary but without knowing any background on the person in need it is a potential recipe for disaster...mix those drugs with illegal drugs and untreated pain...it’s a crap shoot. I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case, but clearly something wasn’t right and maybe it’s time we address it.
Please America, take away their guns and replace them with an education in mental health, your time and understanding of their pain, resources to help them get well and most importantly a safe place to go when things get bad.
I know it’s not a perfect world and there will sadly be people, who go off the deep end and harm themselves or others, education and understanding may not solve all the tragedies, but it could decrease them. Let’s focus on what comes next, some good can come from this, lives still can be saved.