Aurora theater shooting: A failure directly related to our mental health system

I was speaking to Jim the other day about the reluctance of people to “get involved” with the mental health of friends and family members. Honestly, I’m guilty. It’s not a stretch to be aware of a constant stream of strange attitudes, inappropriate comments, excessive drinking, depression, anti-social behavior and other “quirks” of someone we know and say nothing. After all, we’ve been conditioned for years not to judge people, since some folks are just “different” and that’s OK. For the Aurora and Newtown shooters, it was not OK.

This is the hard stuff people. It was easy for Connecticut and Colorado politicians and gun-control activists to blame firearms and law-abiding gun owners for the shootings, targeting the small percentage of the population who own these “evil black rifles” with their “excessively high-volume” of bullets. I’m not sure what they did in Colorado, but in Connecticut, they did very little if anything when it comes to mental health issues. I guess they required some mental health training for school staff, changed a couple of insurance regulations and – of course – created a task force to look at the state’s mental health system. In other words … not much.

It’s disturbing to me that politicians and gun-control activists think they have made some sort of progress; they have not. But what’s even more disturbing is the news from Colorado today. The University of Colorado school psychiatrist who treated the shooter had warned law enforcement a month before the shooting.

Court documents made public Thursday revealed Dr. Lynne Fenton also told a campus police officer in June that the shooting suspect had threatened and intimidated her.

Fenton’s blunt warning came more than a month before the July 20 attack at a movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70.

Fenton had a legal obligation to report the threats, and she did just that. This trained professional warned he was “a danger to the public due to homicidal statements.” Where the break-down eventually occurred  I don’t know. At this point, we don’t know if the Newtown shooter was under the care of a professional, if he was taking any prescription medication, or if he had taken medication in the past. But the police did find medication to treat anxiety and depression in the Aurora shooter’s apartment.

If you think the 2nd Amendment lobby is strong, maybe you should look at the strength of the prescription drug lobby.

The writing is on the wall, the message has been received. Yet still, gun-control activists and politicians continue to blame inanimate objects and responsible gun owners for these tragedies. We absolutely must deal with what’s hard, and have a frank discussion about the mental health system and our attitude towards treating and dealing with mental illness.

Keep in mind, mentally ill people who commit mass murder are extremely rare, and extreme outliers. Of course, this does not make the families of those who died feel any better, but even if we succeed in properly treating these few individuals and keep them away from firearms and weapons of mass destruction, we still have an even bigger problem.

Firearms are associated with thousands of murders and other violent crimes tied to gangs, drugs, and poverty. Similar to dealing with mental health, this to is a hard problem to solve. Any discussion on gun violence must have – at the top of the itinerary – the gang culture, drug use, the breakdown of the family and huge spike in one-parent households, education system failures, economic conditions and faith across our great country. We have kids growing up with no hope – no matter what President Obama says – and this friends, must change.

11 replies
  1. Eric
    Eric says:

    Just like the horrific Sandy Hook affair, this CO killer was a crazy man. ?And just like the laws that CO passed, our CT laws will NEVER stop this sort of killing. ?Our state legislators here in Hartford, with the help of our silly little governor, just passed a “feel good law” designed to show everyone how serious they are about passing worthless legislation, while at the same time walking all over our Constitutional rights! ?Typical democrats! ?Until these whimps in the various state governments decide to get serious about controlling the real problems we’re facing I’m afraid we’re going to see more and more of these mass killings happening… and then maybe some of these lawmakers will actually wake-up and do something useful for a change! ?But don’t count on it. ?These democrat types are pretty ignorant!

  2. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Given the reasoned approach shown in Steve’s post, the comment above did a disservice to the post.

      • sammy22
        sammy22 says:

        It’s another attack/name calling/put-down on politicians, democrats. No help to the cause.

      • Dimsdale
        Dimsdale says:

        Let’s see: “typical Democrat” (that’s an insult as far as I am concerned), “silly, little governor” (actions speak louder than words), and “ignorant Democrat types” (if you pass ignorant laws and make statements demonstrating your ignorance, the moniker applies).
        So how about your response to the actual message in Eric’s post??? Is it “feel good legislation”?? “Worthless”??? “Walking on our Constitutional rights”?
        I say yes to all the above, and the “name calling” was pretty accurate, particularly when compared to liberal ad hominems.

  3. ricbee
    ricbee says:

    The liberals closed all the soft warm places & sent the nutcases out to the streets to wander & maim among us.

  4. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    “If you think the 2nd Amendment lobby is strong, maybe you should look at the strength of the prescription drug lobby.” This to me is the key statement. Ads are everywhere on Tv, internet, newspapers and magazines for drugs. People go to their doctors and demand these drugs, for themselves their kids and parents. If one antidepressant does not work add one more and then one one more. Never take one away just keep adding. We know that a drug that works for one person can be devastating for another. Primary care doctors are prescribing serious medications without the time to properly diagnose depression, hyperactivity and “lack of focus”. ?Even psychologists are speaking at conferences to warn of these dangers. It’s time we listen.

    • ricbee
      ricbee says:

      You are so right,Lynn. These dope pushers are not helping anyone. Some need to be locked away,safe & well fed instead of roaming our streets.

  5. stinkfoot
    stinkfoot says:

    It’s easy for the politicians to exploit crises that we as people (myself included) permit to blossom because of concerns over hurting feelings and political correctness.? I do not buy into the ruse that gun control has anything to do with making anything or anyone any safer.? The key is to not rely on officials acting to prevent incidents even when warned but to act at the grassroots level to limit the opportunities that “leadership” has shown far too much interest in leveraging a political agenda from to actually address in a meaningful way.? We need to stop presenting opportune crises and shrink government down to the necessary evil that it should be instead of the intolerable one that it currently is.

  6. Shock and Awe
    Shock and Awe says:

    While I cannot speak about people who are mentally unstable/violent, I have had several friends who were depressed, even to the point of suicidal, including a close dear friend who was involuntarily committed for those issues, within the last month.
    At least one of the big issues with people of my generation (myself included) is the Facebook friendship.? You become someone’s Facebook friend, you like someone’s status and comment something along the lines of “feel for you man” or something, and you think that you are being a good friend.? You ask your friend how they are doing and accept it when the say they’re okay without a second thought, when situations say that they should not be “just fine”.? It’s hard, my friend’s who have been battling these situations sometimes gets really annoyed when I ask more than once, “how are you really doing?”
    Myself, many people, and most of today’s society relies on text messages and other contact that is not really personal.? It has been proven that physical human contact is a basic and fundamental need to maintain good mental health.? But we rely on text messages, and other things that do not convey emotion well, and give a feeling of uncertainty greater than…

  7. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Look at restraining orders.?? This is society’s first response to a threatened person, usually a woman.?? Are? they serious??? It is nothing more than a red flag before a bull: after presenting sufficient facts to warrant an RO, the accused should be locked up temporarily rather than stating that they have to remain so many feet away from a victim.?? Maybe an ankle bracelet on both that is on proximity alert and automatically calls the police?
    As with guns, it is not the rational, law abiding person that needs to be controlled.? Sadly, our “representatives” do not recognize that fact.

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