|Solution to mass violence not a quick one|
|Local Content - Editorial|
|Written by production|
|Friday, 21 December 2012 18:01|
Heartbreaking news flowed out of a peaceful Connecticut town recently.
A young man took the life of his mother, drove to an elementary school and opened fire on innocent students and staff before taking his own life. Lost that day were 20 children ages 6 and 7 along with six adult staff members.
In the aftermath, many people are calling for stricter gun control as a solution to the problem. Restricting the population’s access to certain kinds of weapons, ammo, and such may help in some instances but a determined killer will always find some way to kill.
The knife attack in China last week is proof of that truth.
Some blame the media for these tragedies. They feel the shooters are given way too much press and it encourages others to do the same thing in order to gain fame and attention.
Some are calling for the media to quit even publishing the shooters’ names but to turn the focus of their stories to the victims. What many are failing to realize is that the answer is much more complex than just a simple banning of weapons or media attention.
It is hard to say what could have prevented this tragedy as we will never have all the answers but one thing is clear: society needs to change some of its attitudes.
One area that needs to change in a major way is the stigma associated with mental health issues, especially in children.
A child diagnosed with cancer or some other physical ailment is given lots of help and shown compassion by society.
A child diagnosed with a mental ailment (if he/she is even diagnosed) is not in many instances shown the same compassion and solidarity from others.
The child is sometimes shunned, made fun of by peers, or simply seen as weird.
These children are not weird, they are in need of all the help and compassion that a physical ailment would receive.
Mental health is so complex an issue that arriving at a proper diagnosis is a challenge, not to mention then finding a course of treatment or therapy that will help the child.
There is no one solution or cure-all. Often children with mental illnesses simply slip through the cracks of society until something like this happens. Is better mental healthcare the answer to preventing another tragedy?
There is no one simple answer to such a complex issue but a combination of changes to gun laws, media reporting, society’s attitudes and mental healthcare may go a long way in helping prevent another tragedy like this one.
It is hard to compare the approach to mental health between Canada and the United States but in recent years it would appear that on our side of the border we have made some positive strides toward lifting the stigma of mental illness.
Media attention has focused on increasing awareness and ending the shame that often follows those who suffer from mental illness.
The day may come, hopefully before another tragedy like Friday’s shootings, when our society approaches mental illness as it does any other kind of illness.
We need to reach out to those families and individuals who are struggling with mental illness and make our society more accepting of everyone.
Only then can we talk about preventing these tragedies.
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