October 17, 2015

Death, whether by suicide or homicide, is too easy to accomplish with a gun. Even relatively stable people can make mistakes or be guided by impulse to do something that they regret forever after, or that their survivors regret forever.
I once had police confiscate a young woman’s gun. She had come to me for counseling after she almost killed herself earlier that day with a gun that was now in her car, outside. I promptly called police. The woman gave the officer permission to take the gun, and he talked with her until he was reassured that she had no idea of killing anyone else. The agency I worked for was not pleased that its image was tarnished by having a police car in the parking lot, but I am sure to this day that I did the right thing.
When NRA groupies say, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” I say “Atomic bombs don’t kill people; people kill people, but would you want that weird guy down the street or that radical Muslim next door to own an atomic bomb?” The least a progressive society should do is to ensure, to the best of its ability, that Continue reading

Continue reading...

October 8, 2015

The new law submitted by members of the U.S. Senate, if passed, will not help those who need mental health care most — the potentially violent. The mass murderers we read about are young men, not the elderly and disabled.
The bill submitted by Senators Stabenow,Mikulski and Lee applies to Medicare recipients only. It would increase the amount of payments to social workers for counseling and other mental health services, including services provided in skilled nursing facilities. That’s great for the elderly.
What kinds of laws might help prevent violence? Laws that most liberals would oppose. We need to expand and increase social control over people who show a tendency to violence. Yes, this means locking them up in mental hospitals and making so-called “mandatory” treatments compulsory. At this time, mental health professionals have the deck stacked against them when they attempt to curtail peoples’ civil rights — even for the purpose of saving lives! Weak and ineffective laws restrict the provision of care. As a social worker and author, I feature these dilemmas in my thriller novels from the provider’s perspective, as well as the client’s point of view. It’s an effort to educate the general public in a Continue reading

Continue reading...

October 2, 2015

Why Did He Do It? He Was Mentally Ill

Who’s responsible for the killing of Umpqua Community College students in Roseburg, Oregon? We are, we collectively, as a society. I won’t print the name of the individual who actually did the deed because it doesn’t matter.  The sickness of violence afflicts our Nation’s people, and there are many specific indicators of that. Before I enumerate those examples, a question:  What if you knew someone who appeared to be “crazy” or “peculiar” and had a history of violence, or was threatening violence? Would you know what to do?

Talking to the person (we will call the Subject) and giving him/her information about mental health services might be a first step. Talking to the parent(s) or other loved one of the Subject might be a second step. Or maybe the first step, but certainly the third, if the first two weren’t successful, should be to contact the local Community Mental Health Agency and ask to fill in and sign a form called a Petition for Involuntary Evaluation.

Here is a brief explanation of how, in doing that, you might prevent another mass murder. (The specifics here apply to the State Continue reading

Continue reading...

January 10, 2013

Feed the Compassion

Where were the killers, the mass-murderers?  In Tucson, in Aurora, in Newtown.  Where were the killers’ family members, class-mates, friends and neighbors?  Were they residing in Denial, looking the other way, ignoring the specter of mental illness in my family, among my friends, my neighbors?  Such is the stigma, the cloud of fear, ignorance and denial that surrounds mental illness in this allegedly civilized country of ours.  As a mental health worker and a person whose own family was afflicted by mental illness, I understand the painful dilemma surrounding mental health diagnoses and treatments.

I am not implying that family members and others surrounding the shooters were to blame for the deaths of so many innocents.  Of course not.  Those mass killings and the ones which may be coming are part of a complex social issue involving many causes.  Inadequate gun laws and poor access to mental health services are just two slices in the pie chart of shameful culpability.  Here is how I apportion the causes and here are my recommendations.

Culture of violence, 30%.   Films, video games and TV shows that glorify killing are Continue reading

Continue reading...