Last month while scrolling Facebook, I learned of the tragic event of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. As the latest in a string of shootings, gun control debates have become even more prominent in Washington. At the same time, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made several bold statements about the need for armed guards in every school as the solution to the problem.
Which according to an article by CNN, “LaPierre’s position sets the stage for a contentious battle between the NRA, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, and the Obama administration, which has promised quick action on ‘real reforms’ to gun laws.”
While the gun control issue has become increasingly volatile, I personally, do not completely agree with a complete ban of guns nor arming every school in the country. However, a major part of this issue, the part that affects me most, has been passed over and received very little attention.
In the case of Adam Lanza, as well as many others who have committed these horrific acts, mental illness played a huge role in the motivation of his actions. This in no way excuses him from the consequences of his actions, but it brings to light a progressively drastic epidemic. Mental illness has become an increasingly difficult problem as more people have been diagnosed with either depression or more serious forms of mental illness in the U.S.
According to the nonprofit organization To Write Love on Her Arms, 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Eighteen million of these cases are in the U.S. This not including the statistics from other forms of mental illness such as schizophrenia or manic depressive disorder. However, regardless of how prevalent the issue of mental illness is in the U.S., our government or at least our media, seem to be relatively quiet about the issue.
One who was not quiet on the issue was LaPierre when speaking about the Sandy Hook tragedy and our inability to know how many people live with mental illness saying, “How can we possibly guess how many [mentally ill], given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill.”
As the government seems to have deemed this issue for the back burner, LaPierre’s argument is reminiscent of an X-Men movie. Just as with the debate on gun control, mental illness needs to be on the forefront of Washington’s agenda. The most important aspect is understanding.
Having grown up around those who suffer with severe depression, I’ve seen firsthand how important it is for those with mental illness to feel that it’s safe to get treatment. Mental illness is as serious as cancer and the resources for people seek help need to become more accessible. Creating a list of every person with mental illness would cause the opposite reaction.
The recent tragedies that have happened in this country have sparked heated debates about gun control and safety, however, Washington also needs to consider mental illness seriously. Perhaps if services for those suffer from mental illness were more prevalent, then some of these tragedies could be prevented.