The background of the term “madness” is that in our culture, individuals who struggle with mental illness used to be termed, as suffering from “madness.”
The epidemic of shootings by people with chronic mental health problems, has been the focus of a great deal of discussion.
I’d like to leave the sports arena, to examine one of the biggest debates in the public domain, which is gun legislation as it relates to individuals who are severely disturbed. The debate has focused on controlling guns, background checks, removing certain types of guns from the marketplace, and treatment of the chronically mentally ill.
Many people with mental illness will never commit a violent act. Advocates are concerned that focusing on how “disturbed” someone is, may stigmatize those with mental challenges. Another issue is that many people who plan to commit violent acts, may easily fall through the cracks of loop holes during background checks. The prevalence of guns and easy access to obtaining them, may not stop those who plan such acts.
The Orlando night club shooter was allegedly on two FBI watch lists. However, the gunman still was able to legally purchase a gun and proceeded to kill 49 people.
Pastor Rick Warren’s son suffered from mental illness for many years and bought his gun illegally on the internet before taking his own life. Some kids who are red flags for this type of act are sent to a psychiatrist, where they may present as calm and not be viewed as a threat. They might complain of being bullied and missing out on milestones that they see other kids obtaining.
We haven’t had time to study people who commit such acts, or people who are planning to commit one. It can take time to conduct research, and to come up with findings that may help guide us to the best solution.
In the meantime, a universal background check, or putting distance between kids of concern and their access to guns, may start to be a solution.
A friend of mine has a relative in Montana who is concerned about her grandson. They have been having debates about whether they should have firearms in their house at all. Removing the guns may be a good first step, but the concern is that most people around them own guns, and guns are easily obtained in their area.
We can all try to intervene the best that we can to help keep those around us and our environment safe from violence.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.