Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 18, 2012

Many issues

Mental illness is root cause of violence, can’t be ignored

The Independent

ASHLAND — The mass murder in Newtown, Conn., has brought many issues to the forefront.

Of course, renewed debate ensued about gun control. Those who favor more stringent gun control point to this recent tragedy as definitive evidence to support their case. Those who are against increased controls accuse their opponents of trying to turn the tragedy into a soapbox for their cause.

School security is another topic for debate. At Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 — including 20 children, aged 6 and 7 — were killed by an intruder, officials thought they had security covered. The media reported on Saturday the school had a top-notch security system in place that included closed-circuit cameras and doors that opened only when employees in the main office buzzed someone in. But Adam Lanza easily broke a window and opened a door.

Some chatting on social media sites suggested such a massacre occurred because God is no longer allowed in schools.

Brutal video games and movies helps build a culture of violence, some say.

First and foremost on everyone’s mind, however, is how such violence in schools be stopped.

The truth is such violence can’t be stopped, in schools or any other place in society.

The deadly rampages that have occurred in the United States on an increasingly regular basis in the last 20 years are not a result of gun control or lack thereof, of insufficient or failed security systems or the lack of a deity in school. They are the result of a madness that has sprung from the excess and self-absorption of our modern lifestyle. It is a madness the likes of which our ancestors, even those a generation before, never dreamed.

Can the madness be defeated or even just controlled? We don’t know.

But society has to make an effort and the only way that effort can be made is to work to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. Those who need help must feel comfortable seeking it.

Other issues, such as gun control and security, may have some effect on the number of school shootings in the future, but as long as mental illness is at its root and goes unaddressed, violence won’t be understood, much less stopped.