Considering tragedy….

An unplanned, unfortunate, and fifth in a series….

Again, we reel from tragedy.  Again, lives have been taken.  Again, one of our own has committed a horrific act.  Again, we struggle to contextualize and grasp.  Again, we debate.

I was in the army infantry.  I was trained for a primary purpose with a variety of weapons: to take human life.  It is my opinion that such weapons serve no other function and have no place in our society.  It is my opinion that an anachronistic law has somehow become a sacred cow to the detriment of our well being when all others evolve and undergo reinterpretation.  It is my opinion that the argument that psychopaths will always find a way is simplistic, defensive at the cost of human life, and irrelevant.  If we can make the psychopaths less efficient, I’m fucking for it.

However, this is not a blog about gun control.  The debate over such is important and should not stop, but it is a debate about a symptom.   Much like the Morgan Freeman quote making the rounds of the internet (which I believe has been proven to be a hoax), it does not address the root.  Access to guns and media sensationalism may exacerbate the problem, but they are not the cause. 

The key word to this point is psychopath.  I know nothing about this particular killer.  I am concluding he was psychopathic based on his actions.  We as a society failed to protect our children from him.  We failed to protect him from himself.

A few weeks ago, I began blogging about mental illness.  I am forty seven.  I have endured two suicide attempts.  I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder years ago.  I first publicly spoke about it a few weeks ago.  I spent years denying it.  I spent years thinking it was a defect and something to be ashamed of. 

Our society attaches a stigma to mental illness.  Outside of jail, there are few ways for youth to be diagnosed and properly treated.  With negative social pressure and a lack of treatment, why do we remain shocked?

We should debate gun control.  We should consider the influence of mass media.  We should look at every factor that influences our ability to keep our children safe in a free society.  We should recognize that mental illness can be tragic, life ending, life threatening, and treatable.  That seems to be lost amid the shouting voices.

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8 Responses to Considering tragedy….

  1. Unfortunately, given that he sounds like he suffered from intense sociopathy, it’s unlikely treatment would help him but we must bring back institutions for people that are a clear danger to themselves and others. The idea that we should allow those who are clearly ticking time bombs to explode before we can do anything about them is arse backwards. As a country we need to do something about this. I don’t want to go down the path where we end up living in a place reminiscent of the wild west, where you have to worry about getting gunned down everywhere you go.

    • Lori says:

      Who decides? Who gets to say that someone is a “ticking time bomb” and should be locked up before they explode? And once we bring back the “institutions” (many of which were closed for extremely good reason), what do we with these unfortunately judged human beings once they are safely locked away from the rest of us? I do not think the answers existed in the past, and I do not believe the answers have been f
      ound presently.

      • “Who decides? Who gets to say that someone is a “ticking time bomb” and should be locked up before they explode?” Health care professionals that have exhausted all other options. It may not be ideal but if someone is a clear danger to others and traditional therapies and drugs do not help the situation then they need to be taken off the streets.

        There are people that are so violently mentally ill that their own families live in fear of them and have tried everything they can to help them but their violent behavior continues to escalate. Right now all we do is shove them in prison after they have harmed someone. We need preventive care for the most disturbed among us and if that means locking them up when there are no other safe options available then that’s what we need to do.

  2. Kat Leo says:

    The shouting voices need to stop shouting long enough to hear those of us with mental illness screaming not so silently for help. The shunning and stigma attached to mental illness I believe exists because the ignorant and uneducated are shouting to loudly and cannot open their minds to any kind of dialog. We need change and Darren you are taking a giant step to get people to listen. You keep me strong dear heart.

  3. ericjbaker says:

    Thank you for addressing a critical aspect of this situation (by situation, I mean the fact that this kind of tragedy keeps happening) that is not being addressed by professional media.

  4. Lori says:

    @themisanthropicmuse – Locking people up does little good for the majority who would be handed this fate in your ideal world. I’m sure you would sleep better at night, but I guarantee you that the majority of psychopathic, serial killers would not be caught in your web and would still be climbing through your bedroom window at night. Carry on with your largely unfounded fear of the “mentally ill”, the VAST majority of whom are not violent. Ever.

  5. Lori says:

    @themisanthropicmuse – Remember, once you open the “institutions” they must be filled. It’s simple economics.

  6. charlieopera says:

    I just caught up on your blog, Darren, reading through several of your last six or so posts. I too went the mental institution route (as a kid some forty-two years ago). I was too scared the first couple of days to observe anything. I adjusted inside with the passage of time, but there was nothing solved. My mother, god bless her, refused to let them give me electric shock therapy, then insisted I was released after the 10 day period during which I wasn’t allowed visitors. I was one fucked-up individual for many years after (too many years) … only considered suicide once, did not try it because of my three kids (one an infant at the time). I went the other way (I think you know what I’m referring to here) and it took another 30 years to come out of that fog. I attribute coming out of the fog to teachers first (a few), relationships second, but my current wife was the ultimate catalyst. Last year … check that (I had to Google-check). Nearly two years ago I lost a very dear friend to suicide. His passing still haunts my wife and I. He was with us the weekend before … he’d come to our house for the holidays, even visited Momma Stella in Brooklyn with us (where she said, “Charlie, he’s so handsome, that boy. Really fucking handsome.”). That boy was in his early 40’s … but suffered from the most severe depression I ever witnessed firsthand. Everything you posted these last few weeks, as far as my limited ability to compute, seems spot on … what also seems spot on is that writing is what you have to continue. First, because you are a writer. Second, I suspect, because it is a form of salvation (I believe this). Make writing (and whatever else you need) your salvation. It is what my wife to this day claims saved my life (from some bad shit), and I’m writing nothing nearly as profound as what you’re tackling.

    It’s an honor knowing you, my man.

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