Expand efforts to identify, help those with mental illnesses
Thursday, September 19, 2013 11:00 AM
In the aftermath of Monday's mass shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C., all of the usual emotions resurfaced ... anger, fear, disbelief.
Sorrow is appropriate. We're weary. But we've got to turn our mournfulness into positive energy.
We must redouble our efforts and take on the growing issue of mental illness in this country.
Unfortunately, we've heard that call before, and the response has been unsatisfactory.
Too many conflicted individuals are falling through the cracks and not getting the help they need - deserve.
We still don't know all of the details, but it is clear that the assailant Aaron Alexis was a troubled man.
He believed people were following him, using a microwave machine to send vibrations to his body. He moved from hotel to hotel. He called police and told them he couldn't get away from the voices.
Yet, he managed to hold down an important job that required a security clearance.
We now know that Alexis suffered from serious problems, including paranoia and a sleep disorder. What's frightening is that he was receiving treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Regardless of the source of one's disorder, we must do a better job of identifying the problem and getting help.
At the local level, there are organizations and individuals that can offer assistance or suggest where to get it.
Professional mental health providers, clergy, family physicians, school counselors all are equipped to help individuals find appropriate guidance.
An editorial in the Washington Post succinctly summed up the situation.
"Life does go on, through Columbine in 1999, through Virginia Tech in 2007, through Sandy Hook in 2012. Each atrocity provides a jolt to the nation and then recedes with little effect, until the next unimaginable event occurs, except each time a little more imaginable. Everything was supposed to change after a man with a semiautomatic weapon mowed down 20 elementary school children in their classrooms last December. But for the politicians, nothing changed. Now, another massacre, another roster of funerals. Again, again, again."
We can't wait for the politicians. The effort must begin at home.