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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mental Health Issues & Violent Acts

Throughout the history of the United States, individual acts of violence have been performed by people who had mental health issues.  Presidents, celebrities, elementary age children and recently those attending movies are just examples of those who have been killed by individuals suffering from mental health issues.

The instrument of destruction in most of these killings has been guns.  This does not mean we must ban guns but means that more protections need to exist to keep guns and other weapons of destruction out of the hands of those who have mental health issues.  A difficult task indeed.   Their is no test required to have every person in the country to pass a "mental health" test.  So, how do we know someone is mentally ill?  Basically it comes down to family members, friends, or others noticing behavior or actions of people that seems violent or that raises concerns.  Physicians may have to be directed to report to police or other protective agencies information on possible concerns doctors may have with a patient carrying out violent acts.

The common denominator that may warrant triggering a report to officials is written, verbal, or actions taken by a person with mental issues that lean towards violent acts.  Of course caution needs to be taken that an innocent, misdirected comment by a person by itself does not become the sole evidence of follow-up violent behaviors.

Mental health issues are not something new that suddenly popped up. History indicates we as people have long had problems that fall into the mental health category.  Some people have lived with these problems.  Some have lived until they were no longer able to fight the demons within them.  In those instances suicide has been their choice of action rather than taking the lives of others.

Prevention of mental health issues requires what?  Are some people going to encounter mental health issues due to "inheriting" issues that existed from their parents?  Are mental health issues preventable? Can someone with mental health issues be cured?  If not, what actions should be taken in helping the individual deal with their mental health issues?  How much does the media and reporting on instances of violence impact the future behaviors of the mentally ill?  Are we partly at fault for glorifying and over reporting on acts of violence carried out by individuals?

Throughout our country and hopefully throughout the world there are dialogues on going on how best to deal with these issues.  Understanding, compassion and developing options on how to "treat" mental illness and better prevent mental issues from developing is what we need to continually invest time in.  I don't think life is getting any simpler.  Among all the issues in the world, one that may offer substantial benefit is understanding and developing ways to deal with mental health issues.

If you are involved in the dialogue regarding mental health, please share what discussions, recommendations and actions are currently ongoing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sandra Bland - Police Stand Down

I just watched the dash cam video of the altercation between the police officer and Ms. Bland.  These continued incidents make me wonder why there is not a nationwide "stand down" where all police officers are reminded on how to interact with the public.  Is it that difficult for police to gather in a conference room in each locality and review the proper procedures to reduce instances of escalating police stops into life and death situations for the public?

The police approach people armed with guns.  The police can not expect people to feel comfortable if  a person approaches them with a weapon.  Especially in light of events over the past year where policemen have been video taped killing people, just because they can.

In the military when events go wrong, especially leading to deaths, they go into a stand down mode. Procedures are reviewed and training provided to prevent repeats of the incidents.  So I ask again why can't this be done by police forces throughout these United States of America?  Provide police with sensitivity training.  Remind them that African Americans have been mistreated in this country for many years.  African Americans want to be respected.

A minor event has somehow curtailed into a woman now being dead.  As you hear in the video of the confrontation, people are tired of being seemingly picked on for minor issues.  The police, who legally carry weapons, need to go the extra mile to not escalate situations.

Stand down, educate yourselves.  Then treat us respectfully.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Death Required for Public Policy Change

It often takes the death of a person to initiate action to change a policy or create a new law. Unfortunately that is part of the human condition.  We seem to think that if nothing negative has happened there is no need to make a change.  We are reactive not proactive.

Recently the issue of the Confederate Flag being flown over a state capitol came back into public debate.  The discussion was initiated due to nine people being murdered by someone who featured the Confederate flag in a photograph.

Why do we wait until someone dies before taking action?  Sometimes as in the case of gun control, there are not enough deaths to inspire us to action.  Not even murders of children in schools over the past 3 years was enough motivation to change policy in regards to gun control.

We can only ask those who stand in the way of change why must a death happen before they change their mind?  The irony of ironies would be if someone in their family happens to die because of their refusal to take action on an issue.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tired of the Violence

The 7 year old grandson of a friend of mine was shot and killed over the July 4th weekend while with his father watching fireworks.  His father, a gang member, allegedly was the target of  the shooter. The gang lifestyle of his father cost a 7 year old his entire future.

One irony is that my friend is the acting director of a Team Mentoring program  that mentors elementary grade students.  My friend, who spends time trying to mentor young kids into a positive direction, had his own family impacted by gang violence.  My friend's grandson was going to spend time with his grandfather this summer.  In a moment of senseless violence that opportunity was taken away.

Some of our youth continue to engage in self destructive gang activities.

I'm not going to offer the solution that these violent young men need Christian instruction.  I would not ask them to "give your life to Christ" or invite them  to a mentoring sessions, or a meeting to help turn their lives around.  My speech would be, you've made a choice to live a violent lifestyle. Whether you were inspired by prior family members, the movies "Scarface", or "New Jack City", doesn't matter.  You want  a lifestyle of violence?  That is your choice.  Just keep your lifestyle away from innocent people like the 7 year old in Chicago who was killed while just trying to enjoy fireworks.  If you don't care about yourself or others, I don't care about you.

Take your violent actions out into some isolated part of the country.  You and your fellow gang members.  Build yourselves a town in the desert.  Far away from us.  Carry out your wild west antics away from us.  When you realize how senseless your actions are and want to live a peaceful normal life then come on back.  But, until then stay away from us.  We don't want you near us.  We are getting tired, very tired of your actions.  With every negative action you take you are arousing us to action to see that your violence is dealt with and that you go away.

We are tired of seeing innocent people hurt because of you.  It's time for you to go.