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How Mental Illness Killed In Arizona

Updated on January 25, 2011

My Thoughts on the Shootings and Murders in Tucson

Like the rest of America - and the world - it saddened me when I heard on the news about the recent shootings in Tucson, AZ, the folks who were killed in that shopping center parking lot that day, including that sweet nine year old girl Christina Green, and U.S. Representative Gabrielle Cliffords' subsequent fight for her life due to the horrors inflicted by Jared Lee Loughner and his rampage.

I'd also say that the carnage shocked me, but when you take into consideration all of the mass shootings that took place in spots such as Columbine High School and Virginia Tech University, I'd be lying.

To put it another way, I wasn't too surprised at what happened.

Nor was I surprised when it was revealed that Loughner - whose deeds would be upgraded to assassin status should Cliffords not survive - was (and is) severely mentally ill, particularly when one considers that many of those mass murders are done by people of that persuasion.

Loughner showed all the signs of his illness months before his acts, which included being kicked out of Pima Community College, a junior college in Tucson where he attended, for writing and saying various things that scared the people who attended and taught there.

Incidentally, did anybody else noticed that in his mug shot that was shown in the media, Loughner looked like a combination of Uncle Fester of The Addams Family and the son of Harry Potter's Lord Voldemort - if that Dark Lord had a son, of course.

Anyway, when it was reported that Loughner threatened one of his college teachers for giving him a grade he didn't like on a paper in one of his classes, I knew that he would likely snap and that something may well happen.

It personally concerned me when I heard that one of the killer's favorite tomes was Mein Kampf, the Bible of Nazism and anti-Semitism that was written by none other than Adolf Hitler himself, which was essentially the blueprint of the Third Reich and all the evil that went along with that.

I feel that more than anything else, all of this madness perpetuated by Loughner comes back to one thing: the fact that this young man suffered from mental illness.

Those events hit home in the sense that I have a close relative who has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for over ten years. The signs of his disease - which is what it is - began when he was about 17 when he started to hear menacing voices in his head, went days without sleeping, and getting belligerent and agitated on a fairly regular basis.

He would get violent with me on occasion for any perceived slight; I recall having to escape to a friend's house a couple of times because he punched me while calling 911 one time, and another time he broke down my bedroom door.

We didn't know that he was sick at that time, but I must be honest; those were the times when I was scared that he would seriously hurt me, and him killing me did cross my mind, I won't lie.

However, there was - and is - one main difference between this close relative of mine and Loughner...

This relative got an extensive amount of professional help, which included spending time in psychiatric hospitals, seeing various doctors and other experts, and is currently on medication, which has curbed his symptoms. Although he still has his episodes, the thought of what our family's life would be like if he had not received that help is a shuddering one.

By contrast, because his mother and father had no idea he was sick, Loughner, who lived with his parents, didn't receive any help or medication to forestall his illness or the symptoms of such. They were ultimately clueless and failed to see that their son was a young adult who was in dire need of intervention and treatment.

It's painfully obvious to me that six people, including that adorable sweetheart of a little girl, would have lived, and Congresswoman Giffords wouldn't be in Texas facing a rigorous rehab for her brain injuries if Loughner's parents had known anything about their son's troubles and attained help for him.

A lot of people have stated that this tragedy is a gun control issue, but I disagree.

This is an issue of mental health which has been overlooked for far too long. Maybe if the proper funding for programs and institutions were allotted instead of cut, there wouldn;t have been any shooting at that Safeway parking lot.

The significant message in all of this, to me, is that if you have a loved one who has shizophrenia or any other kind of mental illness, do not hesitate to use any means necessary to get help and treatment for him or her.

Lives may be saved due to that.



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