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.

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