Perhaps this will make America look at it's gun laws again. Perhaps American people will change their attitude towards their ideas of the 'right' to posess a gun, or any weapon. Less access to weapons. Stringent licencing and permits.
I realise many Americans use guns for hunting, and that this is legitimate sport. However holding a gun for personal protection assumes that one will have to use it. It speaks of a country where one lives with the paranoia of not being safe in your own home.
There have been fatal accidents where children have played with guns where the weapon has not been safely locked away.
I wonder if Americans realise people like myself don't think their country is safe to visit. That there is an overarching crime culture that is armed both with knives and guns. That American people are exposed to this threat of violence within their culture simply by having this 'right' to bear weapons.
I remember we have had several amnesty hand-in's for weapons. Where people holding knives and guns have simply handed them in at the police station. It's a matter of choice not to own a weapon.
I realise that with a huge change of attitude there will be a lot of gunshops out of business, and that if the trading of guns in any transaction were to become obsolete many people who supply weapons will have to find another means of income.
I also have great sympathy for those who are mentally ill. The young man who did this terrible thing and then shot himself has slipped through the net of mental health care. It isn't criminal to have mental health issues.
Not to have treatment for them, when in this modern age of psychiatry and councelling services so much can be done to help people who suffer with dreadful internal trauma seems as though there may be a lack of understanding, funding, and care for this huge part of the health service in America.
I am open about having Bi-Polar Disorder. This just means I suffer with depression and mania if I do not get correct treatment. I have a community psychiatric nurse who visits me for an hour usually every two weeks, and I can phone her any time I want in case I feel something is not right. I normally see my specialist every three months, although If we know I am going through something like moving house which we are at the moment, I can request to see her on a monthly basis.
This is better than ending up in the psychiatric ward every year over the winter period. It isn't that the ward is an awful place, far from it, just that it's avoidable. This puts less stress on my Husband and the service itself. With all this help I have learned to pretty well manage my own symptoms. There is a good life to be had even if someone does occasionally need more care than at other times. It's a safety net that simply doesn't seem to have been in place for this young man.
Perhaps Mental Health Services have been the poor relation of the General Health services in the past, and I assume in America that the user must pay for this type of treatment. However perhaps the answer is to make this aspect of the American Health Service to be state funded. Also to raise awareness of the symptoms so that they can be treated much sooner.
Young people do sometimes need professional help, and learning to recognise what kind of behaviour needs treatment as soon as possible must come from all those involved with them. Dishing out anti-depressants from Doctors is not the answer. There are always deeper issues and psychosis underlying depression. Poverty, poor home life, and lack of relatedness to other people. Fear of stigma does stop people getting help as soon as they know things aren't right.
Even family members live with this denial that one of their own needs treatment. It isn't intentional, it's a kind of blindness. They have lived with their loved ones symptoms for so long they don't see them as symptoms any longer. That's just the way they are.
There is no guarantee that someone with mental health problems will even choose to get help that is offered or take prescribed medication that usually takes a few months to actually start working. Believe me, feeling bad when depressed is no description of the place you are in. It can be dire, like a never ending vortex of gut wrenching anxiety. Paralysing, suffocating, leaving one on the verge of physical sickness over weeks. An inability to perform even the most basic things like making a cup of tea.
It is possible to get better. Or perhaps stay in long periods of remission where you are stable and can get on with life. Perhaps even holding down a job, or helping out regularily with some charity work. Modern attitudes to mental illness are concerned with treating the whole person, not just the symptoms they present.
Perhaps the greatest breakthrough of all is not to be thought of as different, to be able to socialise, to feel good about yourself even though there may well be another episode somewhere in the future that will need the help from the psychiatric team to pull through.
Yes life with Bi-Polar is a life of see-sawing ups and downs, but they do not have to be extreme now that the meds are so good, and don't affect your quality of life with side effects.
Untreated mental health problems lead to extreme behavioural problems. Some of them as tragic as murder of family, and young children. It has to be the wider society that takes an active caring attitude towards people who are mentally unwell.
There is as Reb Jeff says no one simple answer, but a many faceted approach to the issues surrounding this dreadful tragic event that will affect the lives of so many parents, brothers and sisters and family members of each person who has lost their life in a way that echoes other massacres of this kind in the past.