There’s been another mass shooting. Since it happened, people are uttering the taboo phrase, mental illness (MI), out loud. Not in whispers. Spoken loudly, as if rendering a death sentence. Some proclaim, “Mental illness is what caused the shooter to kill nine people and wound nine others in Oregon.”
Let me start by emphasizing an important point: Not everyone with MI commits such crimes. Many function well and lead typical lives. Read my message ‘Not all become shooters.’
One of the survivors of the recent tragedy in Oregon, Anastasia Boylan, reported that the gunman ordered the students to stand up if they were Christians.
Can we stand firm in our faith, while facing MI?
Those college students in Oregon, who stood firm in their faith, offer us a symbol of how to live. In the face of MI, moms raising kids with MI can stand firm in their faith. Paul told the believers in Thessalonica how to survive troubling days ahead. He encouraged them to, “Stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Our faith in Christ need not be shaken. Because the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So, we remain firm in our belief that He is faithful. We’ve learned that His promises are true. We’ve experienced His power, provision, and protection. He has guided and comforted us. His Word reminds us daily of the hope and peace we find in Him.
Responses to this recent tragedy:
The mass shooting in Oregon has been added to the growing list of shootings in our nation. Indications are surfacing about the perpetrator’s troubled past. Even before learning about his past, most people concluded that he must have had some sort of MI. So, some say addressing MI would be what needs to be done.
The president is calling again for common sense gun control laws. Many agree that the solution to preventing further massacres would involve numerous measures.
Those of us raising kids with MI could weigh in with our own suggestions. Like how ‘bout educating everyone? There are behaviors which hint someone is about to unravel and explode. Everyone should learn about the signs which predict violence. Without insight into the problem, those warning signs go unnoticed. Loved ones often report, “He kept to himself. I never thought he’d do such a thing.” Soon after, investigators unearth clear signals.
I’ve never seen a show dedicated solely to shedding more light on the complexity of the problem. Such a show would help viewers understand the profile of a person who might snap. It would list the risk factors that might play a role in pushing a person to the brink of violence … a person who: has a history of MI, is marginalized and isolated, has been bullied, has anger issues, has abused substances, has suicidal tendencies, own guns, and/or posts rants and concerning pictures on social media sites.
It would be helpful for people to learn what a person does and doesn’t do prior to unleashing carnage. Such a documentary would help viewers understand the difference between typical behavior and abnormal patterns of behavior. It would include a focus on the role of social media postings which should alert those who read them. Then, it would equip concerned citizens with action they could take to get help for the troubled person (by helping them know who to contact).
October—A Month of Awareness:
Elevating awareness would be a good start. Prior to this last incident of mass murders, October was already an important month. Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 4-10, 2015. October is also National Bully Prevention Month
I’m grateful for organizations like National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). According to their website, NAMI has a “network of NAMI members and friends dedicated to promoting caring faith communities and promoting the role of faith in recovery for individuals and families affected by mental illness.” During this Mental Illness Awareness Week, check out Faithnet’s resources and information by clicking on the link below:
National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
It’s interesting that October is also National Bully Prevention Month. Sadly, as in my own son’s case, constant bullying can contribute to mental illness (MI).