These days no matter what the situation, it seems that everything has to be a fight.
If you follow my blog, you will remember the posts I have written about mental health in this country. With elections drawing closer next month, gun control is again on the ballot. Everyone thinks guns are the problem and yet not one person running for office has actually looked at the real problem; mental health. With the anniversary of so many mass shootings, Vegas, Parkland HS, San Bernardino, Orlando Night Club, Columbine, and others coming up, the scab never seems to heal but it may be time to place the blame where blame belongs; mental illness and not the cold hard metal of a gun.
Gabby Gifford was shot in the head in January, 2008 by Jared Loughner who also killed 6 others and injured 13 in AZ during her campaign for Congresswoman or whatever office she was running for. (I honestly pay no attention to her because she is one who believes in gun control rather than mental illness.) Where I feel badly this incident happened to her and the others, why hasn’t she looked into the mental state of her attacker? Here is what was written up about this guy:
“The man who shot former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was unraveling in the months before the rampage, issuing paranoid, expletive-filled Internet rants about government conspiracies, suicide and killing police, according to new law enforcement documents.”
“Loughner’s deteriorating mental state before the shooting has been chronicled in previously released documents, psychological reports and media interviews with witnesses, but the FBI files released Thursday provide some new details.”
“Loughner ranted on his MySpace page about the government spending illegal money, how he couldn’t trust the police and referred several times to suicide and killing authorities. On Dec. 20, 2010, he wrote: “I HAVE THIS HUGE GOAL AT THE END OF MY LIFE: 165 rounds fired in a minute!””
A week earlier, according to the FBI files, Loughner wrote that he was glad he hadn’t committed suicide.
“I’ll see you on National T.v.! This is a foreshadow…why doesn’t anyone talk to me?” Loughner wrote.
In another online post about a month before the shooting, Loughner wrote about strange dreams he was having.
“There are important figures in my dreams that accomplished political aspirations: Hitler, Hillary Clinton and Giffords to name a few,” he wrote.
One report indicates that a witness called the FBI the day after the shooting to tell authorities that Loughner had often been seen at a city library watching videos and that he “would repeatedly talk loudly to the computer causing a disturbance to others in the area.” The witness told authorities they remembered “looking over to his computer and noticing he was watching Giffords speeches online.”
Loughner also argued with instructors and disrupted classes at Pima Community College, leaving one instructor intimidated. A witness told the FBI that Loughner once had a strange reaction to another student’s poem, saying it was about abortion, wars and killing people. “He said, ‘Why don’t we just strap bombs to babies,'” according to the FBI files.
One FBI file dated the day of the shooting says an agent interviewed a woman who once worked with Loughner at a store. “She advised that Loughner would talk about zombies, guns and things that she and the other employees could not relate to,” according to the documents, (Associated Press, April 11, 2014).
And this is only one mass killer’s background. Can you imagine if we focused on the others? What we would find is these are very disturbed individuals, who friends/family/acquaintances (fill in the blank here), thought were disturbing and yet not one person ever did anything about it until it was too late. Why? Because mental health is never dealt with in this country and as long as we allow insurance companies to make decisions for doctors, we will continue to have this problem, we will continue to have mass shootings. And as long as people keep their mouths shut rather than telling someone about odd behavior, these things will continue to happen to innocent people.
As far back as 1955, our government has been trying to sweep mental illness under the carpet. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year. Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities” (2018).
According to WHO, World Health Organization, “Over a 12-month period, 27 percent of adults in the U.S. will experience some sort of mental health disorder, making the U.S. the country with the highest prevalence. Mental health disorders include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and substance abuse. Over one’s entire lifetime, the average American has a 47.4 percent chance of having any kind of mental health disorder. Yes, that’s almost one in two. The WHO data does not take into account eating disorders, personality disorders, and schizophrenia; the incidence of these disorders together is about 15 percent in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health.”
In the U.S., only 41.1 percent of people with mental health disorders receive treatment. In other parts of the world, treatment is highly correlated with how developed the country is, and with how much of the country’s gross domestic product is spent on healthcare. Better treatment rates are generally seen in nations with universal healthcare. In the U.S. it’s not the lowest socioeconomic class that has trouble (they have Medicaid, which usually covers it), it’s the second-lowest socioeconomic group that can’t get care. While treatment rates have gone up in recent years (especially for pharmaceuticals), the rate of mental health disorders has not changed much, (Walton, The Atlantic, 2011).
This is staggering!! And yet, when one finally does acknowledge they have a mental illness and their doctor prescribes a drug for them, insurance companies are denying access to them. WHY??
In the majority of school shootings or mass shootings I have researched, every single one of the perpetrators had some type of mental illness. Whether it be they were molested as a child or withstood years of child abuse, or had an arrest record, or were being bullied in school, were loners, introverts, obsessive, social outcasts, stalkers, some were ordered to receive more therapy once released from a mental hospital with no follow up, suicidal, becoming increasingly distant from family and friends, spending money obsessively, unstable….are you seeing a pattern here? All of these odd behaviors are a form of mental illness…when, as a nation, are we going to wake up?
So if 1 in 5 Americans can experience some type of mental illness in any given year and 1 in 25 Americans experiences a MAJOR, life altering mental illness in any given year, I’d say we have a very big problem in the US and the majority of people are ignoring it. Something has to change, and I don’t think it’s gun laws, it’s making our insurance companies liable especially if someone has a history of mental illness. Or better yet, holding family members of the mass killer responsible for not reporting them sooner. I say this because in my research, all family members of mass killers stated their loved one was “odd”, “displayed erratic behavior”, “had violent tendencies”, “were social outcasts”, and yet they did nothing about it, turned a blind eye.
As a society, as a nation, as a people, of which has the worst history of mental illness and mass gun shootings, need to come together as a collective and demand changes in our health care system to insure anyone who needs help can get it, no matter what the age or circumstance, without a fight. The health insurance companies are the ones getting away with murder.
National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2018.
Tucson gunman before rampage: “I’ll see you on National T.V.” The Associated Press, April, 2014.
Walton, Alice G., “Why more Americans suffer from Mental Disorders than anyone else.” The Atlantic, 4 Oct 2011.
W.H.O. World Health Organization, 2018.