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Monday, December 17, 2012

"As this painful week unfolds, we can let it belong not to the killer, but to victims we mourn, and admire, and keep alive in our thoughts."

My heart also breaks for this woman, and all those like her. She gives the chilling reasons why we may not be able to prevent this insanity, no matter what policies or laws may result from this:

"I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

"A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan--they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

"That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn't have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

"We still don't know what's wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He's been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work."

This woman apparently does not live in Connecticut; her article is entitled, "I am Adam Lanza's mother" metaphorically. But she highlights why it may be, at least sometimes, futile to expect loved ones, family members, to "notice" a relative's mental illness and "do something" to report it so that they don't tip or jump over the cliff as Lanza did. Perhaps Adam Lanza's mother was in a similar situation as this mother remains. This mother may well end up dead herself, as her son promises to carry out when he gets out of the mental hospital.

So this account, while eye-opening, frightens me to death.

And though this does not cause mental illness, what can compound that specific problem is when high schoolers, as we all know, can be brutal to one another, regardless of how excellent a school may be. I myself was ridiculed--for characteristics of my body--in a prestigious Catholic high school in the mid 70s, so this isn't new though it now has many more cutting avenues (Twitter, Facebook, email, cellphones, blogs, even voicemail, none of that existed back then in the dinosaur era).

And apparently, there was another school killing that was worse than both this one and Virginia Tech, proving that mental illness isn't a "modern" thing, though it is the reason for it all. And that one didn't involve guns at all.

So the bottom line is: no healthy-minded person grabs an actual knife and threatens to kill another because s/he's told to return his overdue library books or is taunted by peers. No healthy person reacts that way to such things. Who knows what taunts Lanza may have encountered in his junior high, when it was reported he took a turn for the worse regarding threatening and odd behavior. But it proves the point that mental illness is the fundamental problem. No healthy person reacts to high school taunts or any bullying by killing anyone, never mind 20 six-year-olds and 6 dedicated educational professionals.

So what do we do? I don't know. For now, we think and believe like the father of Emilie Parker, who credited Emilie's "Heavenly Father" for all her wonderful qualities and gifts, and then said the following, when he took questions after he spoke to the world last Friday (at about 5:10 into this video),

"The person that chose to act in this way was acting with the God-given right that he was given by God, with his own free agency. And that free agency is given to all of us, to act and choose to do whatever we want, and God can't take that away from us. And I know that's something he was given and what he chose to do with it. And I know that God can't take that away. I'm not mad, because I have my [free] agency to make sure that I can use this event to do what I can to... do whatever I can to 1) make sure that my family, my wife and my daughters, are taken care of, and that if there's anything I can do to help anybody at anytime anywhere-"

And there they cut off the video at ABC News (which they shouldn't have done, but he was talking too much about God for their tastes, it seems). It's clear that this young father was about to say, that he would offer his help, love and compassion to all, if they so needed it, even to the family of the shooter, which he said at the very outset of this video.

What a faith this father has. I don't know that I could say, never mind feel, the compassion and understanding he holds and offers so deeply, within a day of the tragedy.

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