Not safe anywhere?

Century 16 theaterThe shootings early this morning at the Aurora theater remind me of how fragile life can be. It can be gone in a split second, when you least expect it. All of the people in that theater had anticipated a great time, and were enjoying themselves tremendously, until something happened to change their lives forever.

We lived within 10 minutes of Columbine when those shootings happened, and it shook me to my core. The fact that the Century 16 is a half-hour’s drive doesn’t make it feel any less close to home.

It’s all so very tragic and sad. And I can’t stop watching the videos, listening to the interviews, and grieving for those involved. Their lives, and the lives of their families and friends, will never be the same.

I called my daughter as soon as I heard. Even though I logically knew she was nowhere near the scene, I had to hear her voice and make sure she was okay. Fortunately, none of her friends were there either. So many mothers are in pain right now, and having nearly lost my own child, I can empathize. I know there is nothing that can ease the agony of a dead child. The pain stays with you forever.

And then I think of the mother of the shooter. To know that someone she carried inside her, that she nurtured for many years, and of whom she was most likely very proud, could do such a thing would have to have torn her world apart. Reports that state that she knew they had the right person makes me wonder what she knew. Could she have done something to prevent this? Had she tried to get him some help? She’s probably asking herself these same questions. She’s probably blaming herself for not trying hard enough; for not pushing him to get help when she knew he needed it.

I don’t blame her. Any loving mother would encourage a troubled child to seek counseling. She’d try hard, and repeatedly. Unfortunately, the stigma given to mental illness often stops people from reaching out. My heard aches for her, as well.

I have no inside information about what was going on in his head. However, if he dropped out of school, something was wrong. He was on the path to a rewarding career, and then stepped off. It’s hard to believe that anyone in their “right mind” would do something so horrific. He might have been extremely depressed, to the point where he was completely out of touch with reality.

What’s the answer? It’s not gun control. Nor is it to issue weapons to everyone and reliving the Wild West. It’s absolutelyNot putting metal detectors in movie theaters. They don’t make us any more safe. They just remind us to be afraid. Afraid in the same way as the TSA screenings, which have never resulting in the capture of a single terrorist, but have completely disrupted the lives of travelers, reminding of that evil is all around us, all under the illusion of “safety.”

One answer is to de-stigmatize mental health issues. If more troubled individuals could seek professional help without the possibility of public ridicule, and the risk of losing jobs, standing in the community, or whatever they fee is at risk when they admit they need help, more of these troubled individuals would be taken care of, without injury to anyone else.

This may not be the only answer, but it’s a start.

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