On January 9, 2017, the US House of Representatives stood in a moment of silence following the Ft Lauderdale Airport shootings. (http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fort-lauderdale-hollywood-airport-shooting/sfl-us-house-of-representatives-holds-moment-of-silence-for-airport-shooting-victims-20170109-story.html)
I concur with the thoughts and concerns for the families of those who were killed or for those who were injured, either physically or emotionally, or both. Words do not reverse the pain and the losses.
But let’s take an ‘etiological’ look. So far, all the dominate evidence seems to point to a shooter who was acting in response to dreadfully malevolent psychiatric spirits, over which he had no rational veto. Therefore, it seems this shooting is from a psychiatrically allied event.
As for the US House standing in respect to the victims: yes, it is nice…it honored the victims…. which as a community is very needed and crucial, and very fitting to the collective craving we need to assemble a means to resolve and endure the event. But did they realize they stood up in response to a psychiatric event?
I doubt most of them thought of it that way. I will loudly apologize if I am wrong.
The reason I ask is because I need to add to this event our country’s statistics of 44,192 suicides per year. That’s 121 per day. (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/) This circadian carnage does not capture the countless daily domestic assaults, mental cruelty acts, reckless or inebriation based motor accidents, or other acts of violence which equivalently stem from inadequately treated mental illnesses.
I wonder if the authorities in Alaska would have addressed the shooter with more concern for public safety if he had spoken of a core political/religious fanaticism that would have been graded as dangerous, as opposed to a mental illness, which, shall we say, was not categorized as frightful and uncontrollably destructive? Is being mentally ill without a political component more of a community nuisance than a community danger? Do agencies choose to move the person elsewhere so the problem will belong to another agency? Or was the decision to release him and return the gun yet another case of the typical, all-too-common, errors in judging future dangers?
We must discuss the notion of violence and mental illness. The clear and immense majority of mental illnesses do not threaten others in the manner of a Ft Lauderdale like shooting. Rather it is the opposite, and those who suffer a mental illness tend to harm themselves more than others. The etiology of a mental illness is a drifting mixture of bad genetic/toxic biological exposures and processes interspersed with psychosocial stressors.
But there are some troubling realities. For example, a non-mentally ill victim of domestic abuse may develop a mental illness in response to the actions of other people’s mental illnesses – the victim may need medications to relieve some of the pain, but the real treatment is cognitive and behavioral therapy; this may at times also require geographical separation that is financially or legally impossible. It gets very complex and sticky.
Mental illness eats at our society in horrific, massive, and often non-public ways. At times, it finds venues for those whose thinking is distorted by mental illness to find expression and solace in political/religious extremism.
The inside core is mental illness. The outside scaffolding is extremism that, to the person, feels nutritious and wholesome.
The US House of Representatives should daily stand up to think about the so many whose lives, and deaths, are controlled by mental illness. They would never sit down if they memorialized every suffering event produced by mental illness.
We, too, should stand up. Yes, stand up, and use the augmented height to look beyond our usual landscapes, and see the world a bit more to what it really is.