Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tucson, AZ Part I

The debate continues about what happened in Tucson, and how it should be handled to prevent such tragedies in the future. For me personally, as a licensed mental health professional, as a mental health advocate, as the director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, the discussion is a painful one for many reasons. I, like all of us, am profoundly saddened by the loss of life and serious injuries that have changed lives forever. I am deeply saddened this poor, tortured soul wasn't able to cry out and receive effective treatment that might have avoided this whole ordeal. Like the proverbial train wreck, I have wanted to look away and at the same time couldn't take my eyes and ears away from the aftermath.

Going forward, trying to cope with the tragedy in my own private way, I have listened to the national debate like the rest of you. To me, it divides into three primary areas of questioning. First, was the tragedy in Tucson caused, or at least encouraged, by the strident, and at times, hate filled political fighting that rages day and night through the media? Second, was it caused by the access to guns, particularly those with automatic settings and over-sized clips obtained by a person with a history of perceived mental illness? Or thirdly, was it caused by a untreated mentally ill individual whose mental health needs were ignored or dismissed as beyond the scope of providing help whether the person wanted the help or not?

While some of the debate delves into similar, or even completely different aspects, I believe these are the three central themes making up the primary arguments. And they are all highly complex. Tomorrow, we begin to take them up, one at a time. Feel free to join in the discussion.

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