It’s 8:19 pm on December 14, 2012 and my heart is overwhelmed by the tragedy in Connecticut. The headlines on the Fox News website read… Gunman dead after killing 20 children, 6 adults at Connecticut elementary school… words cannot express the horror and disbelief that an event of this magnitude brings. The President, Barak Obama, was visibly moved to tears as he said… “The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” Obama said. “They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.” We at Worship Life are praying for the families in this time of loss. I can’t imagine what it would be like to arrive at school with the intention of picking up my child only to learn that their life was taken by a crazed gun man.
Having said this… my heart also goes out to all the families that have children that suffer from mental illness or a mental disability like autism or aspergers. It is being reported that the young man who killed 20 children and 7 adults including his mother and himself suffered from asperger’s syndrome (a mild form of autism). The news reporters are calling this action an act of unspeakable evil. It would be easy to draw the conclusion that all people with a mental illness or a mental disability have a seed of evil in them and our communities need to be protected from them. Unfortunately, this is not the truth.
Having a son that suffers from a mental illness, we know the stigma and shame that they live with every day. There are churches that he is banned from going to. There are people who have turned their backs on him because of his behavioral issues. Tonight we had to evict him from our home because of anger outbursts that occur when he is not taking his medication. But he is not evil. In fact, he loves kids and does very well with them, but one church I was on staff with actually tried to make him out to be a child molester. I was so disappointed in the lack of spiritual maturity and wisdom that the elders of this church exercised.
What is the answer? I believe our country needs to stop ignoring this population and provide resources and help. I would like to see Social Security require any recipient of government aid due to mental illness to be monitored by a doctor and be required to adhere to a managed care program in order to continue receiving funds. I would like to see Social Security provide more educational programs, workshops, care facilities for the mentally ill. I would like to see the government provide incentives for companies to develop low cost injections that those who suffer from mental illness can benefit from – eliminating the problem of non-compliance for meds. I would like to see better training teachers, police officers, jails, courts, etc. to help them truly spot those who are mentally ill or mentally disabled and provide proventative resources before we see these kinds of situations develop. I would like to see greater communication between all government agencies with hospitals that would help flag repeat offenders that are potentially mentally ill or disabled in order to get them the medical help they need. I think there is much we can do as a nation to keep these kinds of tragic events from happening.
This is not meant in any way to diminish the tragic circumstances or grief of those who lost loved ones today. This is merely meant to help open a dialogue on what we can do to prevent these kinds of events in the future….