Friday, November 21, 2014

Too Close For Comfort- FSU Shooting

I've spoken out about mental illness before, and how the system no longer steps in to prevent the kind of harm that we're seeing time and time again from mental health clients who had given every indication that they were in crisis and potentially a danger to themselves or others.

Myron May was in crisis.  It was known that he was suffering paranoid delusions.  Welfare checks resulted in only the most cursory evaluation, and, as so often happens, the workers sent out to do the evals walked away clueless as to what was coming.  I suspect, if they'd listened to May's ex-girlfriend or others close to May, that they would have been a lot less clueless, and perhaps some lives would have been saved.

Of course, that would seem to trample on what some people see as patient rights... the same rights which allowed this man who had what seems to be a fairly sudden breakdown into madness to take a gun, travel 1500 miles, and walk onto the campus of his former school with a gun and start shooting students.

And now May is dead, which is another tragedy, because May should have been in a psychiatric hospital being evaluated and treated long before he left Los Cruces, before he pulled the trigger the first time, and before the police shot him dead on the steps of the library.  Now I'm not saying what the police did in this case was wrong. It was a tragedy, but it was clear that May was endangering the police and bystanders and that there was no other option.  But it never should have gotten this far.

But for me there's another angle on this story, because I first heard about it on Facebook via messenger... from my daughter... who is completing her PhD at FSU.

Now at first reports claimed that this was NOT one of those mass/ random shootings, and that there likely were specific targets.  We now know that isn't the case.  We also know more about May's history and psychiatric state.

And I know that it could have been my daughter in the library that night.  I'm relieved it wasn't.

But it was someone's children who were there, who were shot, and someone's child died at May's hands as a result of a failure of the mental health system.  And of course May himself died as a result of that failure as well.

I'm not sure how many times I'll be writing this over and over and over, or how many times an untreated or under treated psychiatric patient will harm themselves and/or others before things change in mental health treatment.

We live in a society that fails to recognize neurobiological disorders as diseases of the body (and after all, the brain IS part of the body) and sees them as failures in character.  We live in a society that, rather than treating individuals with these illnesses wait for tragedy to happen before killing or incarcerating the ill individual.

We live in a society where my son, a mental health client, is put in constant risk due to insufficient treatment and the tendency to incarcerate rather than address the illness.  

And one where my daughter, an innocent and mentally healthy individual, is put at risk as well.

It's time to put an end to this and make profound changes in the mental health system and the stigma and ignorance about mental health issues in our society.  We've had more than enough deaths and injury to warrant a closer look at both issues involved: mental health and gun control.

Yes, May was mentally ill when he pulled the trigger.  But the other side of all this is that he had to have a trigger to pull. 

Formula for Made for TV Christmas Movies:

1.  Make it a romance.  A white, heterosexual, Christian romance.

2. Characters which have achieved some level of economic/ business success must have one of the following conditions:
a) Lack of Christmas spirit
b) extreme loneliness
c) a cold heart
d) a sense of ennui
3.  Happy characters must live in their hometown.

4.  Happy characters have job options defined by gender.
a) women may be:
          I) Teachers 
                    II) Nurses
         
                   III) Small Shop Owners

                   IV) Waitresses
b) Men may be
                    I) Firemen

                    II) Local Police

                   III) Veterinarians

                   IV) Farmers

                   V) Craftsmen

5) One of the characters is 90% likely to be a single parent.
a) Male single parents MUST be widowers.
b) Female single parents may be widows or abandoned by criminal husbands
c) in NO CASE can the children have been born out of wedlock.
6) One of the characters is 50% likely to be a denizen of the North Pole.

7) All romances must be absolutely chaste throughout the story.

8) Happiness and the Spirit of Christmas are achieved by rejecting socio-economic success to find work and a home in one's hometown.

Thursday, November 20, 2014