Month: June 2016

The Mental Health State of the Orlando Shootings

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The following is my analysis of the recent shootings in Orlando:

Orlando has certainly been in the news over the past 2 weeks. For me, the experience was more than surreal as it is the area I call home, yet I was not home at the time of the events. I was away working which allowed for me to have a differing perspective.

I awoke on Saturday morning to the news sharing that a singer -Christina Grimmie – had been shot while signing autographs. This was an awful story to read and certainly one that made me wonder what was going on with the world. It is scary enough to think that people have such access to a weapon that can destroy with very little effort (I know the 2nd amendment for those that are irked already); yet to once again read a story of someone with this much anger using such a weapon to remove a life from this earth just because they felt it was ok to do is maddening.

In respect to this young lady (Christina Grimmie) your light was exterminated many years before your time, yet, it would seem that another man had anger in his mind, as he arrived the same night of your death at another nightclub to destroy as many people as he could with a different gun. This particular event shares with Orlando and the rest of the country how fragile the laws are in relation to guns and mental health.

As stated above, in both of these situations, the victims were shot with a gun. Christina Grimmie died at the hands of a man who shot her then after a scuffle turned the gun on himself. Perhaps there was a mental state within the shooter that was of pure anger or it may just simply have been what we have learned that he was infatuated with her and expected her to respond in kind. A similar story occurred like this when a shooter (John Hinkley) sought the attention of an actress and shot President Reagan. The country rallied at that time and came to the conclusion that there may be a need for gun control and even created a cooling off period. This makes sense in cases where people get into an argument, yet there is no system that is out there to help people in the mental health world.

A few hours later, a man who had the desire of destruction in his mind and heart choose to use guns to destroy the lives of 49 people and wound many others. As the story unfolded from my location, which was not in Orlando, the feeling was surreal. I live close enough to the location of this mass shooting, yet being far away on the day of and even through a week later, I have time to sit back and allow my inner anger to subside while my heart comes to terms with what is going on.

Information on the shooter has come out that he was a problem child in school, being suspended often. He had problems as an adult not being able to truly connect with any specific group. His wife stated he had anger issues, the club he visited recalls him looking toward men for attention. His desire for guns and the use of them calmed him enough to enjoy the violence of possibility. Any of these situations are now being called red flags, yet as a nation none of them really are. He began to acknowledge his connection to ISIS, yet his family and friends state he was not really religious and none of the terrorist networks knew of him. None of this to me says the man is a terrorist for Islam or for ISIS. Rather he is a lone individual who has a mental state which split.
I believe strongly that the discussion of mental health is not discussed enough when it comes to the honest situation of any of these circumstances. Orlando is working on the process of healing from a mentally unhealthy individual who choose to use the tactic of terror to destroy lives. I believe that the death of Chritina Grimmie falls into the same category.
The city of Orlando has rallied hard to come together and to find a meaning behind this shooting. The press jumped to terrorism because it is easy. The truth to me is that it is not easy, this is a mental health shooting which does not have red flags since we as a society do not accept the review of anger or discipline problems as mental health issues. We do not fund the option for working on mental health issues and we do not focus any attention toward this problem. Orlando is not the first shooting situation in our nation, rather this particular shooting targeted a nightclub. The situation of it being a gay nightclub may have played a factor in the shooters mental state, yet there is no difference in the loss of life, people are still dead because a person with a state of mind other than healthy made this choice. This is no different than the choice of a school or a movie theater, it is a location for which a person who showed many signs of mental health deficiency choose to create harm.

The understanding of this choice is not common, yet it is understood in the research components of psychology. Discussing banning guns for people with mental health will not remove the issues we face today, for the people we want the guns taken away from do not always show issues and or do have ways to find guns. Creating a system whereupon a person with red flags is sent to a counselor to work on their issues sounds like a great idea, yet it slaps the constitution so loudly that the ACLU would not allow it and the politicians would never fund it.

This means, that within the community, we will all bond together, the same as we did for 9/11, Sandy Hook, Columbine and even Denver, yet the ultimate reality is nothing will change. The press will continue to vilify this as an act of terror to sell ratings, and the people of the city will hold onto every word that is said as gospel.

For me, this is the saddest part of the story. Until we are willing as a society to realize that within every community lies many ticking issues that with counseling can be helped, stories such as these will continue.

If you are around people who may have anger issues or maybe showing signs of wanting to target a specific group, ask them to get help. There are support groups out there, yet ranting about one person for what they did in the name of religion or sexual preference is the final step. There are many steps prior to this that can help solve the problem.

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