Gun control would not have prevented the senseless loss at Sandy Hook Elementary.

A simple match and gas can could have been just as deadly.

If we truly want to stop these incomprehensible acts, our nation must focus our energies on mental health. We must go to the root of the problem, not put a politically-charged band-aid on the hardware used.

Twenty children, all innocent little first-graders – dead.  Seven women, among them mothers, teachers and a principal. Gone. The 20-year-old shooter, a child in most of our eyes, is lost, too. An entire nation in shock.

News channels question which public policy issues will be examined, “Will Connecticut School Shooting Spur Gun Control Action?” “Will School Security Come Under Scrutiny?” and “Make the USA a Safer Place.”

I’m seeing very little about mental health.

Why is that?

First of all, there is little or no corporate money supporting mental health lobbying. Not enough profit in it, I guess.

Secondly, human capital is scarce. Most parents of children with mental health issues are exhausted, with little energy left to continue fighting the battle. Families are stretched thin financially after having to hire special tutors and pay for medical specialists, oftentimes not covered by insurance. Others step back into silence, hoping their child won’t have a stigma attached.

Folks, this is a national epidemic.

“1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder,” according to National Institute of Mental Health (in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control).

The American Psychological Association states, “an estimated 15 million of our nation’s young people can currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Many more are at risk of developing a disorder due to risk factors in their biology or genetics.” Only 7 percent receive the help they need.

The anxiety and stress associated with these kids’ challenges drives them into insanity. You can start to understand why some of them commit such acts of desperation.

Think about it. By the time they are 4 or 5 years old, our little ones are saddled with stigmas ranging from ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism.

Every day they are ostracized, bullied, pulled out of classes, tutored after school, IEP-d . . . segregated by having to sit at “the Sped” lunchroom table or study in ‘special’ classrooms. They are profoundly affected because they are labeled as different.

From the news sources, this painfully awkward boy had battled with a type of autism as well as a personality disorder. According to his aunt, Adam Lanza was an Honor Roll student even though he had ‘learning issues’. He had no previous arrest records.

She continued to say that Adam’s mother battled with the school board and ended up home-schooling her son. “I’m not 100% certain if it was behavior or learning disabilities, but he was a very, very bright boy. He was smart.” A friend described him as a genius.

I get it. I’ve fought those same battles, seeing little or no progress.

It is my hope that this incident will bring national attention to mental health. This Newtown community seems to be filled with well-educated, upper income families who have the means and the connections to make a swift impact on Washington.

I hope they’ll not waste their energies on political battles – with gun control or more school safety. I hope they’ll realize what killed their children and become true beacons of change.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How can we help?

Join NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness

Impress upon your US Representative and Senator the importance of mental health funding.

 

 

 

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22 Responses to Gun control would not have prevented the senseless loss at Sandy Hook Elementary.

  1. Stacey Dougan says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your focus on mental health. I do not believe it’s an either/or choice, however; still believe gun control must be central to our response if we want to stop this insanity and begin to change the culture.

  2. Constance Trover says:

    The simple idea that people kill, not guns, rings a bell. Our children are forced to grow up at a horrible speed that allows most not to have a childhood, and there are so many mental illnesses that we are just learning about and how to help. Problem is, not much help is being given, or it is not realized by family members that the child is not bad, but may need help. I have a granddaughter with ausperbergers…if she was not at the most wonderful school she is in now, I fear for her. Where she started school, was always the odd duckie out, and came home in tears too many times. She is brilliant, just needs help with the social aspect of life, which she is getting. I am so very sad for the children and parents that do not get the much needed help they need in this hard world we live in now. My heart goes out to all the victims.

  3. anne dukes says:

    Thank you Lisa, for your wisdom and heartfelt comments.

  4. Michele Stapleton says:

    The same day that the massacre took place at Sandy Hook a madman attacked a school in China. He had a knife, injured 22, killed none. I’m not disagreeing with you about mental health, but we also have a gun problem. Let’s work on both.

  5. lisaweldon says:

    The key word, “Madman”

  6. Trudy Wilson says:

    Thank you Lisa for a very meaningful and thought provoking article. Thought the article from the Huffington Post exposed what many face in their families but they try to “hide” that aspect of their child until desparation sets in & by that time either divorce, sibling separation and/ or they are out of funds. Mental health education & funding have to become a priority. In this evil world it’s going to become an epidemic if we don’t act quickly.

  7. Joanna says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for your insight. As Huckabee said, “It could have been a bomb that killed.” So, I agree with your comments about guns. ANYTHING in the wrong hands can kill. I don’t mind telling ANYONE that I am PROZAC and that it helps me tremendously. I only wish I had known about it sooner. I always felt a quart low in something…and when I started the anti-depressant, I was whole again. So, I have a personal story. Also, I taught GIFTED for about 2 decades. I always hear, “Oh, you have it easy.” Or “Your classes are great, etc.” Well, guess what? I probably would have taught Adam Lanza. Now tell me how wonderful my job is. Not all Gifted children have something great going on in their brain. We try and teach 25 different kids on a 1:1 ratio. I hope all the families get the help they needs when suffering through this.

    • lisaweldon says:

      Oh, wow, this was a great video. Thx for sharing. Yes, it’s a very complicated issue. I hope the American people will stand up and force their Washington representatives to act. Love his Lincoln quote: “As a nation of free men, we will live forever, or die by suicide.”

  8. Fred Stapleton says:

    I seem to recall less uproar over the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma, in which 168 people were killed, 19 of whom were children attending a day care center in the building. The most recent incident is horrendous, but the answer is not federally mandated gun control by a government that is unable to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable or revolutionaries or criminals, as evidenced by the shootings that occurred in Killeen Tx by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, on a United States Govenrnent facility, Fort Hood. That incident resulted in 13 deaths and the wounding of 29 soldiers, in a government facility , by a government employee. There will always be mentally unstable individuals and criminals and terrorists who will find a way to kill Americans, both children or adults. If they cannot do it with guns, they will do it by whatever means they can imagine and acquire.

    My condolences and prayers to all victims and families or these tragedies.

    Lisa, when you get tired of Hotlanta, come to Texas. You are our kind of gal.

  9. lisaweldon says:

    So excited to hear the Today Show yesterday and Good Morning America today speaking about mental health issues!!!

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  15. mindy says:

    While I still believe we need to address the gun control issue I have to say admit that I have not given mental health the attention it so justly deserves. I cannot imagine how horribly frightening and frustrating it must be for a parent who has to deal with these issues on a daily basis. You want the best for your children and when they and the policymakers fight you every step of the way, it must be debilitating. I wish for you all a light at the end of the tunnel.

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  17. The changes that need to happen seem so overwhelming. I agree that mental health should be scrutinized just as carefully as gun control.

  18. June Corley says:

    All the mass shooters have been young WHITE men. I wonder if the same emphasis on needing more mental health help would be the same if they had been young BLACK men? I’m afraid the answer would be no.