At the End of the Day: My Response to the Alpine Tragedy

Disclaimer: The name and details of the shooter have not been released as of now (1:30 pm, EST).  My prayers go out to the families of both the shot (Sedonah Young) and the shooter.  It’s a terrible situation to be in on either side.  Reader: as you read this article, do not think for a second that all those with mental illness are dangerous and should be locked up.  Actually, most people with mental illness will never go on to harm anybody, even themselves.  The exceptions are what we need to be wary of and watchful for.

“People with mental health problems are almost never dangerous. In fact, they are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators. At the same time, mental illness has been the common denominator in one act of mass violence after another.”

-Senator Roy Blunt (R)

At the end of the day, there was only one fatality.  Not 32, 20, or 13.  Just one.

At the end of the day, this was not a mass shooting, a homicide, or a killing spree.  It was a suicide.

At the end of the day, there are two families crying.  One is crying for joy, because their daughter survived.  One is sobbing at the unthinkable, their daughter is dead.

This family is likely to be emotionally and verbally attacked over the next few weeks, the next few months, their whole lives.  At the end of the day, there is only one family that will experience heart wrenching loss, unbearable grief.  And sadly, many will blame them for everything.

Mental illness is a problem.  We don’t know what made her snap.  But when 14 year olds are killing themselves, something is wrong.  I know, this could have been a lot worse, but it wasn’t.  It only highlights the fact that many school shootings and mass murders (excluding terrorism) have their roots in suicidal thoughts.

From what I understand, this girl seemed perfectly normal.  I’ve read she was even a straight A student.  But there must have been signs, cracks in her façade.  When it comes to mental illness, even the smallest signs must be probed.  No one is exempt from mental illness, therefore we all must be on guard.  Watch.  Listen.  Get help.

Our government may turn the focus toward guns, and I believe that would be a fatal mistake.  The problem here was not the gun.  It was the mind of the person with the gun.  Mass murders spring from mental illness, not from the thought of having a gun.  If the same thoughts had come to a person who was incapable of purchasing a gun, they would have carried it out some other way.

At the end of the day, mental illness is highlighted as the epidemic it is.  In our nation, suicide continues to be much more prominent than homicide (over 3X as much), but that is brushed under the carpet by the media.  Sadly, most media groups would rather further their political agendas than highlight the real problems.  And even worse, a lot of our politicians do the same.

My goal in this article was not to further any particular political agenda, but to call attention to one of the real problems our nation is facing.  It is, in fact, a life or death situation, and it must be dealt with as such.  No more sweeping it under the rug or rationalizing it.  It is a problem, and it needs to be stopped.

So what can we do to help those experiencing mental illness?  How can we get them to effective and affordable treatment without violating their liberty?  These are the questions we need to start answering right now.  We need enacted solutions before another Columbine, Virginia Tech, or Sandy Hook.  We need answers before the next Robin Williams, Whitney Houston, Ernest Hemingway, or the person you knew…  We need to start thinking.  Fast.

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