Letters to the Editor

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SHOOTING: Inadequate response to mental illness

Letter by Susan J. Campbell, Lakewood on Dec. 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm with No Comments »
December 17, 2012 3:44 pm

I hope that I am not alone when I notice that horrific gun violence of late has not been perpetrated by those we perceive as “criminals.” It has been at the hands of those who are mentally ill, yet bloviation on the gun issue still is as perennial as the grass.

If our society would address the inadequacy of our collective response to mental illness, these episodes of gut-wrenching gun violence could become a thing of the past.

We cannot ignore that this young man and those other unbalanced people who shot up the Portland mall, the Aurora theater, places of worship and other schools should have been institutionalized before they could do such unspeakable acts. But relying on outpatient treatment in order to conserve admittedly scarce resources has repeatedly jumped up and bit us, even ripped our hearts out.

When left to their own devices, unless aggressively supervised by family or others willing to accept responsibility, patients cannot be relied upon to take their medication or follow whatever mental health regimen has been prescribed. And when they are “off their meds,” access to guns, legal or otherwise, proves tragic.

The time has come for our society to accept that such people need to be institutionalized. And unfortunately, that will cost tax dollars. But if we could have known beforehand, would we not have forked out those tax dollars to save these 20 innocent children?

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