Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS
 
 
 

Mass shooting problem is mental health, not guns

October 14, 2015
By Dottie Pacharis , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Yet another shooting, this time in Roseburg, Ore., where 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer opened fire at Umpqua Community College, killing nine people and wounding others. Mercer was a student who died by suicide after exchanging gunfire with responding police officers. Sadly, these tragic shootings happen with such frequency that many in this country now seem unaffected.

Mentally stable people do not commit mass shootings. They are either off their meds or not being treated at all. Once again, people like Mercer keep falling through the cracks of our broken, dysfunctional mental health system. Being mentally unstable does not have to result in mass murders. The recent horrifying violence perpetrated by Mercer is preventable with proper medications and involuntary hospitalization when needed.

All these shootings are tragic. They make the national news. What doesn't make the national news is that only a small number of mentally ill people ever become violent, and then, usually when they fail to get treatment. Most become victims of violence, rather than the perpetrator.

Once again, President Obama wants to enact tougher gun laws while ignoring the fact that all these mass shootings were committed by individuals who were mentally unstable. Severe mentally ill adults should NOT, under any circumstances, be allowed to purchase guns or have access to them, but it is our broken mental health system that is the problem. Until we fix it, we will unfortunately continue to see these tragedies.

As happens with all these shootings, Congress and churches will have their usual moment of silence in memory of the victims and their families, the flag will be lowered to half-staff, the news media will spend a few days discussing mental illness, but nothing gets done to reform and fix our sorry excuse for a mental health care system. When the next mass shooting occurs, we will do the same thing all over again.

There is, in fact, a bill that has been pending in Congress since June, when House Energy & Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) reintroduced their groundbreaking "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act," H.R. 2646.

This bill will mark a new era for mental health care in this country. It will move mental health care from crisis response to recoveryfrom tragedy to triumph. The bill currently has 141 bipartisan co-sponsors and endorsements from newspaper editors, physicians, and parents of children with mental illness.

Congress should move this comprehensive mental health legislation forward now. Not next year. Not next month. Don't wait for the next shooting, but now. The time for action is now.

--Dottie Pacharis, author, mental health advocate and mother of a mentally ill son, lives on Fort Myers Beach.

 
 

 

I am looking for:
in:
News, Blogs & Events Web