16 December 2012

The Unthinkable

When I first learned of the news from Connecticut on Friday, I quickly wished to remain ignorant - if only for a day or two. The thought of something like happening to a child - or anyone - breaks my heart and makes me wonder how we've come to this. Then I heard that most of the children who died were in kindergarten and the tragedy struck very close to home. I can't imagine what those parents, those mothers, are going through right now. Why why why?

Sadly, I have a feeling that we're going to talk about this again and again if we don't stand up and do something about this. It started with Columbine and it has become an epidemic. It's not just about the men (yes, mostly men) who perpetrate these mass murders. It's an issue that is bound up in many other issues, including gun control, the media, access to mental health care and the stigma associated with mental illness, as well as our own implications in these issues.

We can throw blame around for what happened in Connecticut (or Aurora or Oregon or ...): It's gun laws ... It's the media ... It's those "crazy" people who carry out these heinous acts. But the sad reality is that it's our fault, collectively. We need to demand that gun control laws protect the people and not individuals' rights to bear arms. We must demand that everyone, everyone has full and comprehensive access to mental health care - just as we do for physical health care. And we need to start focusing on prevention, not just reaction. We can turn off the TV when the news sensationalizes these acts and notarizes the men behind them. And, perhaps most difficulty and most importantly, we have to ask the hard question about gender: Why are young, middle-class white men motivated to commit such crimes. This is a question of gender and violence and we can't ignore it any more.

I've read some interesting and controversial articles in the past few days, one of which is written by a mother of a son with severe mental illness. Perspective is always a good thing to have in situations like these. And there's a link to a petition on Anyways. It's one small, simple first step.

Also, The Secret History of Guns, Fake Tears, Why Is the Shooter Always Male and Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?

How much more of this as a society and culture can we take? How did we get here?


Ann Wyse said...

Some really interesting links, thank you!

Something I find myself wondering about a lot on the topic of mental health and mass shootings: to what extent is doctor-patient confidentiality doing a disservice to our awareness of mental health disorders? Every time something like this happens, I scour articles trying to put some sort of reason behind what happened – I search for some clue about what we could be doing better - and for me, mental health could be a critical part. But often, (lately?), there's so little information about this aspect and it is released so long after the event....

Sara Struckman said...

Anne, Thanks for the great question. I'll answer it in a separate post.