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 of Arizona, but other states have a very similar process.) The Community Mental Health/behavioral health Agency would supply you with a form, on which you would list the name, address and other information about the potentially violent Subject, as well as your reasons for believing that the Subject was a danger to others or so mentally impaired that he/she should he hospitalized. The Agency then has 48 hours to send a social worker to meet with the subject (in the presence of law enforcement, if necessary) to conduct a mental health assessment. If the Assessor also believes the person is a threat to the safety of self or others, the Assessor can request the Subject be involuntary hospitalized for 72 hours. If a psychiatrist or M.D. agrees, it will be done, by law enforcement, if necessary. During the 72 hours, two psychiatrists will also assess the Subject and if needed, he/she will be court ordered for treatment.
This process is described in my novel, The Well. Why? Because we are all responsible for the society in which we live, and the more we know, the more empowered we become to change it for the better. Even fiction should provide information that can empower us.
In my next post, I will present the evidence I see that we have a society in desperate need of healing, and what we can do to heal it. Till then, Sharon Sterling