I woke up to the sound of cold, December rain, and I wished the entire world could back up the clock and erase yesterday from history. My friend Jialun wrote to say the heavens are crying. Those tiny children. I feel so helpless. Looking at my own Kindergarten baby only brings tears. I don’t discuss politics here. I don’t care who you voted for, and I don’t care where you go to church. You don’t have to agree with my ethos to be my friend. We can disagree on almost all public policy and I’d still have you over for pie.
But there is one issue I have regularly discussed here, and will support to my dying day: mental health in America is extremely hard to access. In the paper this morning I saw a gun control article side-by-side to a long listing of mass shootings going back 50 years. The editors missed the link: they assumed what those shooters had in common was gun ownership. What that long list had in common was UNTREATED SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS. ALL OF THEM. Listed after the date, the details of the tragedy, and the fate of the shooter, why wasn’t a post-hoc diagnosis listed?
It’s extremely rare that someone ill enough to commit a crime of this magnitude is organized enough to create a plan and access guns, but clearly, it’s possible. But before the metal detectors, before the gun control, what mentally ill patients need is help. I wonder how many people knew he was sick, but didn’t know how or where to ask for help? Psychotic disorders don’t unravel overnight. He was 20…ripe age for a psychotic break. He was probably decompensating for months.
As humans, shouldn’t we care for each other first? Before all other things? Shouldn’t we find a way to give healthcare to those who so desperately need it? It’s in our best interest as a species, after all…isn’t it? On today of all days, Godspeed to you my friends. I hug you all, across the continents and states which separate us. As for our house, our children are young. We’re throwing away the paper quickly and keeping the TV off. I pray the parents of their friends do the same.