Another horrid tragedy has befallen America. As our hearts go out to the families that were ripped apart from a lone gun man that took it upon himself to systematically murder innocent people I feel lost and greatly disturbed. Not just because the action of this sick and demented man, but also because of how the media is portraying him. My post probably wont be very popular. It may even anger some people, but it is the truth. It is the way I see it.
I know that this tragedy will become a hot bed of gun haters and gun lovers clawing at each other's throats. I know there will be sign waving and name calling. These people miss the point entirely and the irony is not lost on me.
The point is our system is broken. That in every recent mass shooting in this country there has been warning from people that stood up and informed those in charge that something was amiss. That these shooters were unhinged and possibly dangerous. In every instance there were warning signs and they were ignored.
Seung-Hui Cho- Virginia Tech shooter
It was reported that two years prior to his attack on fellow classmates, an English teacher recognized the signs that his behavior and writings were violent and disturbing. She asked him to seek counseling and reported him to the school. Because he had not committed any crime the school was unable to force him to receive treatment. She reported him and nothing was done. The signs were there. The ball was dropped.
James Holmes- Aurora Theater shooter
One of his psychiatrists reported before the shooting that they thought he suffered from mental illness and was also a danger to others. A month before the shooting his doctor reported to the campus he was attending that he had made homicidal statements and he was a threat to the public. She did not however, try to have him committed for further treatment. Other people were also afraid of him as he sent texts declaring that he was bad news and to stay away from him. The signs were there. The ball was dropped.
Adam Lanza- Sandy Hook shooter
His mother was in the process of getting him committed by some reports but as he had no criminal record she may have had a harder time trying to do so. Regardless if she was or was not in the process of committing him she was taking him to a psychiatrist who did not have him committed. The signs were there.The ball was dropped.
Aaron Alexis- Navy yard shooter
Aaron does have a history of being violent. He was reported to have shot out construction worker's tires in their truck because he felt they disrespected them, even though there were never any words exchanged. He shot through his upstairs neighbors apartment after he threatened her because he felt she was being too loud. He had told officers he heard voices, felt vibrations and was paranoid. The officers called the Navy to warn them. They countered that they would look into it. The signs were there the ball was dropped.
It is heartbreaking that so many had to suffer needlessly simply because the signs were swept under the carpet. Because people that should be in the position to recognize that these individuals were no longer capable of functioning and had become dangerous either did not do so or chose not to do so.
The media has blathered on about mental illness. It has tried to explain that it was only because of mental illness that this has happened. I watched CNN and MSNBC. I watched as they slung mud into the mental illness community damning us for the actions of those that could have been helped but were turned away or couldn't be helped but could have been committed and treated. I watched as they refused to put blame on others or even on the shooters themselves but on the mentally ill as a whole. I have read comments or heard quotes of," lock all the crazies away, the mentally ill are dangerous, they should bring back asylums, they shouldn't be allowed to walk our streets." As the media tries to armchair diagnose the shooters with whatever illness they think best fits the symptoms. Never taking to account that others with that same diagnoses are getting pelted and hurled by insults and side glances. People that were and are not a danger to anyone are now rooted out and discriminated against.
No one stands up for us on the news and states that most murders are the result of addiction, greed, or gang violence. No one stands up and states the fact that most shootings have nothing to do with mental illness. That the mentally ill are twice as more likely to be the victims of a violent attack rather than commit one. Facts aren't sexy. Statistics don't sell newspapers or get viewers but fear does. Fear and misrepresentation are great for entertainment value. Not to mention a great way to promote yet more stigma against those that are just trying to live their lives peacefully. People that are doing their therapies, taking their medications, supporting each other, and doing what they are supposed to do to stay as healthy as possible.
How bad has the misrepresentation gotten lately for the mental illness community?
Well. last month Brian Williams of NBC's news broadcast described the scene of the sentencing of kidnapper, rapist and pedophile Ariel Castro and topped it off with describing him as" arguably the face of mental illness".
Doctor Phil claimed in one of his episodes that insane people howl at the moon and suck on rocks.
It is disturbing that people that bring us our news or people that are supposed to be doctors that care for our mental health feel this way. It's hurtful and it is wrong. The blame should not be put on the mental illness community because some people have crossed over a line and became violent. It is simply not fair nor is it helpful to anyone to spout of lies or implications otherwise. I do not know what made these people do these horrid things. What I do know is that the mental illness community is not at fault. The fault lies in the laws that effectively tie hands of schools that can not force treatment options to stay enrolled. The laws that make it almost impossible to commit a child that has become an adult and is exhibiting dangerous and violent behavior simply because they do not have a criminal past. The doctors that knew that their patients had crossed into a violent and homicidal delusions but sat by and did nothing. The people that received information that a employee had become increasingly violent and had used a firearm twice against perceived disrespect where there was none but failed to look at it in time. The fault lies in responsibility and taking responsibility. The fault lies with the shooters. The fault lies in a broken system that needs to be reevaluated. There is a lot of place fault lies. All of these balls were dropped and many innocent wonderful people have paid for the dropping of them.
So I would like to close this post with a truth that the media has decided to purposely ignore.We are not a threat. We are not vile violent creatures to fear and despise. We are many. We are one in four people in the United States of America.We are fat and thin. We are old and young. We are doctors and lawyers. We are parents and children. We are the man who pumps your gas and the woman cashier that checks out you purchases. We are actors, politicians, and teachers. We are professionals and home makers. We are construction workers and artists. We are your broken soldiers that come back form a war your country asked us to fight. We are not Seung-Hui Cho, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, or Aaron Alexis. We are just people just like you are. We have many faces and none of them are Ariel Castro's.